With the tight supply of peanuts at the end of 2011, it isn’t surprising that supply and demand might take effect and have more farmers looking at peanut production for 2012—especially outside of traditional peanut production areas. Some traditional peanut-production-area farmers in Georgia and Texas didn’t fare well in growing peanuts this year because of drought.

Drought and strong prices could push more peanut production out of traditional regions and into states such as Arkansas and Mississippi not known for growing the crop but with ample water to give it a try.

The harvested peanuts in 2010 were 2.1 million tons, reports the National Agriculture Statistics Service, but production fell to 1.8 million tons in 2011, about 15 percent less.  Reports are that peanut prices more than doubled to about $1,000 a ton.

There have been peanuts grown in states such as Mississippi and Arkansas in recent years, but not that many. The situation might change in 2012. In general, sandy soils work for peanut production, and both states have various sandy soils.  

The states normally mentioned for peanut production are Georgia, which by far has been the biggest producer. Other high-acreage states, not in rank order, have been Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas.

Having buyers for the peanuts grown is the main requirement, and shipping costs to storage or collection points has to be economical and still figured out, it appears. There are consignment contractors signing up growers in the non-traditional peanut production states. The peanut buyers/processors are interested in guaranteed supply by spreading the risk over a wider production geography.

Peanuts are a different crop than almost anything grown by farmers in the targeted new geographies, and there will be a learning curve or assistance needed for the novice grower, from all indications.  

An Associated Press article quoting various growers and peanut specialists can be read here.