With the peanut harvest set to begin, USDA-NASS released the first set of forecasts for this year’s crop in the August Crop Production report. U.S. peanuts are expected to yield 4,129 lb. per acre, which would about equal the value from 2021. Predictions for the top-four peanut states are mixed, with record or near-record yields projected in three states. Georgia – the leading peanut producer – is expected to yield 4,500 lb. per acre, which would be its highest value since 2012. Alabama and Florida are forecast to yield 4,000 lb. and 4,300 lb. per acre, respectively. If realized, this would tie Alabama’s 2012 record and beat Florida’s 2014 mark of 4,000 lb. per acre. On the other end of the spectrum, Texas – mired in severe drought – has a forecasted yield of just 2,100 lb. per acre, which would be its lowest value since 1995.
One question to consider is whether the August forecast will equal the yield calculated at the end of the year. As shown in the figure, the August forecast has exceeded the final calculated yield in each of the past eight years, amounting to an average overestimate of 172 lb. per acre per year. Peanut crops with high yield potential have often seen their fortunes turn due to tropical storms and other weather-related issues across the South. Therefore, it is important to remember that these yield estimates could change before harvest.
If the current yield estimates are realized, total U.S. production would fall by 3% this year to 3.1 million tons driven by the lower planted (and expected harvested) acreage, as shown in the table. In total, 97% of the 1.54 million planted acres in the U.S. are expected to be harvested this year. Among the top-producing states, only Alabama is expected to see an increase in harvested acres, with the top-four states projected to see forty thousand fewer acres harvested than last year. Overall, this slight decline in production should not have too much of an impact on the peanut market. It would likely take larger abandonment or a sizeable yield decline to see a significant effect on the market given the existing peanut stocks.
Forecasted Peanut Production and Harvested Area for Top-producing States and U.S. Total, 2022 vs. 2021
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2022. “Crop Production.” August 12, 2022. Available at: https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/tm70mv177/n5840309g/2n49v849f/crop0822.pdfUSDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2022. “Acreage.” June 30, 2022. Available at: https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/j098zb09z/0z70b374s/w9506686w/acrg0622.pdf