Peanut farmers discuss crop outlook

Peanut farmers discuss crop outlook

Excessive rain and cold weather gave many area peanut farmers a slow start this season, but they say they've seen some big changes over the last few months.
After weather conditions put a damper on crops earlier this year, peanut farmers say their crops are in good shape about one month before harvest.
After weather conditions put a damper on crops earlier this year, peanut farmers say their crops are in good shape about one month before harvest.
Jim Cravey, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, discusses the research involved in local peanut production, along with consumer and industry data.
Jim Cravey, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, discusses the research involved in local peanut production, along with consumer and industry data.
For Headland farmer Chris Parker, peanut farming runs in the family, and he's seen the ups and downs of the business he loves over the years.

"We were at disaster level, in my area and my crop. We were just at a time when everything's trying to grow, and we just didn't have the water," Parker said.

That was the outlook for his peanut crops just seven days ago from dry, hot weather. His crops survived the cold and rain during planting season when others' didn't. But after a brief downturn, he says things are looking up.

"We're looking 100% better than we were seven days ago. If we can maintain this moisture and just catch some smaller, timely rains this month until the middle of next month, we could have as good, or a better crop than we've ever made, in my opinion," said Parker.

Farmers say consumer costs haven't changed much over the last few years. But for them, supply and demand is a major hurdle, and they're at the mercy of the companies that buy and shell the peanuts.

"Now they're at four hundred something dollars a ton. Some of the farmers tell me they're going to have to really do a good job and have a really good crop to make a living at that price,” said Jim Cravey, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “So, we have to sell more peanuts, and as we sell more peanuts, prices will ease back up some.”

He says with continued research and testing out different varieties, the Peanut Capital of the World is still living up to its name.

"We're the low-cost producer in the world now, and if a country doesn't put up a tariff, we can export anywhere in the world. And we've got the best quality peanuts, and it's a great thing," Cravey said.

And as Parker and others would say, with a little rain and little faith, you'll need sun shades to block the rays of a bright peanut future.

Farmers say they look forward to a great fall harvest as part of that future, just before the National Peanut Festival.
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