Peanut production still new to Natural State

LAKE CITY, AR (KAIT) - A number of area farmers left their fields and headed to church on Thursday.

They went to the First Baptist Church in Lake City to attend a peanut production meeting.

Representatives with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture put the meeting together.

Extension Plant Pathologist with the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Travis Faske said the peanut crop is still new to Arkansas.

As a result, they want farmers to have the latest information available.

"Peanuts are relatively new to Arkansas," Faske said. "Since 2012, we've been growing over 12,000 acres in the state. Which doesn't sound like a lot in comparison to the other crops, but it's significant when you talk about peanut production and being new. So, here we're giving growers and consultants an update on what's new about herbicide programs and diseases they need to be aware of in the state."

Meetings like this are an opportunity for farmers to gather additional information about the crop from experts.

"Things are changing all the time," Faske said. "Especially from the economics point. We have an economist here talking and the loss of the generic base acres is something new and they have a lot of questions about that. And so, here's a place where they can come and get some of those answers."

Farmer Greg Baltz grows rice, corn, soybeans, and peanuts.

Baltz said he attended the meeting to get the latest information available.

"We're here to learn a little more about peanuts," Baltz said. "University of Arkansas set up a meeting where they have a plant specialist, wheat specialist, agronomist and all here from the extension service to visit with farmers and prepare for another peanut season. And we're just looking to find all the new information that's available."

Baltz said he has been growing rice, corn and soybeans for 40 years.

He started growing peanuts in 2011 and said they've proven valuable.

"Peanuts have been a great addition to our rotation in the crops," Baltz said. "First of all, they've brought an economic benefit because they consistently provide a level of profitability that the other crops have not provided the last five years. But they also provide a great rotation into our corn system."

Baltz also participated in the presentations and spoke to farmers about his experience.

"I have participated in an irrigation project the past year," Baltz said. "We had several talks about that today and we are seeing some results from some new irrigation practices. It takes a little different agronomic practice. A few new tools, but it's a commodity that has continued to see growth. Both in the United States and around the world. We have good demand for the product and for the last five years we've seen it remain profitable."

Faske said peanuts are proving to be a good addition for farmers.

"A lot of the advantages," Faske said. "From a rotation system, it could reduce some of the disease pressure that we often see in cotton. It's definitely profitable and that's why everybody is here today, as far as production goes."

For more information about peanuts and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, click here.

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