Peanut crops could become profitable for Region 8

LAWRENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -The peanut harvest is in full swing; this represents a new crop for the area that could be profitable with the summer drought further South putting the peanut crop in the tank.

Peanuts thrive on sandy soil and this year have done pretty well.

According to Larry Vance, a field rep for the Clint Williams Peanut Company there are about 3500 acres in Lawrence and Randolph county in peanuts this year.

Vance, "Just by looking at the crop out here in the field and on the truck and the number of trucks we're getting in the fields it's gonna be I think a good respectable yield."

Peanuts are basically a new crop for this area. Lawrence county farmer Steve Jackson says peanuts are a good alternative crop

Jackson, "Our ground is more of a sandy ground and it's just an alternative to growing rice. Rice is getting so expensive to grow right now. It's input costs are steadily climbing."

Jackson says he only had to water the peanuts 3 times this year but he did hand chop the pigweed.

Harvesting peanuts requires 2 separate machines. A digger pulls up the peanuts and turns them up to dry. Then about 3 to 5 days later a harvester separates the peanuts from the plants and the peanuts are loaded into trucks and taken to Oklahoma. Larry Vance says that haul may become shorter.

Vance, "We're hoping to build a buying station which would be and handling point where you could dry the peanuts and grade them and store them, and that would be the first step." Currently most of the peanut crop has been pre-sold and will be made into peanut butter or other products.

Vance says there would have to be a lot more peanut acres before that plant could be built. "But", Vance says; "There is a lot of interest."

Vance went on to say, "Some days it's hard to get things done for all the spectators but we welcome them and it's nice to see interest in product that we are producing here. I think there's an excellent chance of increasing acreage here next year."

One of the by-products of the peanut harvest is the plant that's left over after the peanuts are dug out of the ground. It can be rolled and baled and fed to cattle as feed. The pull-behind combine windrow the plant into easily baled rows. The self-propelled combine spreads it out but Steve Jackson says that plant left behind when turned under is a great source of nutrients for the soil.

Workers on the Jackson farm were collecting bales from the field and stacking them for shipment.

Jackson, "Right now running about 4 and a half bales to the acre. Have a market down in Texas for it they don't have any down there this year. Supposed to have trucks rolling in any day for it."

Jackson said he is so impressed with how well the peanuts did that he plans to double his acreage next year. That will give him about 900 acres all total.

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