Peanut harvest breaks record - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Peanut harvest breaks record

TIFTON, GA (WALB) -

Peanut harvest is underway across South Georgia and experts say this is the best crop in Georgia and US history.

Nationwide, farmers are expected to harvest almost 3,000,000 tons of peanuts.

But not all farmers will make a lot or even any money from the record crop.

This record breaking harvest means the farmers who contracted out their peanuts are making a lot of money for their crop.

 But the other 50 percent, who did not get those contracts, are really suffering.

Some of them might not even be able to cover production costs.

When peanuts hit $1,000 per ton last year during the shortage, many farmers got excited about taking advantage of a good price for next season.

The season contracts opened at $750 per ton. But only 50 percent of peanuts in the southeast are under contract, meaning many farmers are suffering.

"Some did not decide to contract, they felt the price would hold, the price they were assuming in planting did not hold at the $750 level," said Tyron Spearman, National Peanut Buying Points Assoc. President.

Instead that price continued to fall, all the way to $355.

That is less than it costs to produce peanuts, which is about $400 to $500.

 USDA estimates farmers will harvest 2.9 million tons of peanuts, half of those from Georgia.

"Georgia should make 1.4 million tons of peanuts and come close to a 4,000 pound per acre yield," said Spearman.

The crop is so big it's causing other problems too. Buying points are backed up and equipment is all sold out.

But it's good news for South Georgia's Economy.

"It is a boom for the entire area because of the jobs that are now being utilized to get this crop in," said Spearman.

It takes about 800 people to inspect peanuts.

"The federal state inspection service hires people at over 200 buying points in the southeast and they are inspecting around the clock to try to get this crop in before winter," said Spearman.

USDA estimates the demand for peanuts will be up 4.5% because of the lower prices.

But what does this mean for us. Well by next year, you will notice cheaper prices at the grocery store for peanut butter and other peanut products.

 Exports are looking good as well.

There are more inquiries from overseas than ever because of lower peanut prices.

Copyright 2012 WALB. All rights reserved.

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