Price bumps expected for peanut products

RANDOLPH COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - One ingredient to your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches could be costing you more this year.

With the peanut crop in the south suffering from this year's hot weather, the USDA is saying the crop could be down nearly 13%. The primary peanut producing states are Georgia, Texas and Oklahoma. However in Region 8, several farmers are looking at the legumes as a cash crop.

Larry Vance, Field Consultant for the Clint Williams Company which is based out of Oklahoma and Texas, says this is the second year for peanuts in this area. He says about 3,000 acres of peanut fields exist in Randolph, Clay and Lawrence counties.

Vance says with weather and water issues in Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma, peanut farmers here stand to do pretty well.

Vance, "We think it's going to be lucrative. We're planning on that. If were going to get growers to participate it's got to be profitable for them and we think it can be. And that's our plan anyway."

I asked Vance what type of peanuts are being grown by farmers here.

Vance, "This year we're growing runner type peanuts is the only type we're growing. We have grown Virginia type and there are some Spanish types being grown."

The USDA is saying the overall peanut crop will be down about 13 percent... Meaning peanut butter and other peanut products could go up in price. Vance says peanut prices are up this year but accurate numbers won't be coming in until the crop actually begins harvest in the other states.

Vance, "I suspect they are going to be going up more as we move into harvest so I think it will be a good year price wise for peanuts."

And that's what brothers Kevin and Billy Weitkamp are counting on. They have 78 acres in peanuts this year on their farm outside Pocahontas. They had to deal with the flooding and got their crop in about a month late. Are peanuts more expensive to grow than other crops I asked Kevin Weitkamp.

Weitkamp, "We had to put fungicide out 3 times and pre-emerge over the top twice. I think it might be a little bit more than what we planned but it's still going to be a lot cheaper than corn or rice."

The Weitkamps say if the peanuts work out they will put them in their crop rotation with rice and corn.

Vance says Randolph county is perfect for peanuts because of the soil. And what does the soil have in it? Sand, lots and lots of sand.

Weitkamp, "This is the perfect place . We've got a lot of sand. Even more so since the levee broke." he said with a grin.

Like with any new crop there is a lot of interest from those who didn't plant peanuts this year. Weitkamp says he generally gets at least one call a day.

Weitkamp, "I think when Larry starts harvesting them there's going to be a lot of people out here watching him. Everybody wants to know when they are going to be harvested and how they are going to do."

So You might want to visit your local grocery store now to stock up for peanut butter jelly time before the prices go up.

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