Opinion

Peanut Trends and Challenges in the United States for the 2024/25 Season

Published May 17, 2024
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The USDA-NASS Prospective Plantings report for 2024 indicates a marginal decrease in peanut planting intentions compared to 2023, with significant regional variations. Favorable conditions are anticipated for an earlier planting season in the US due to warmer weather. Despite early insecticide applications to combat thrips, preventing TSWV remains challenging, prompting farmers to prioritize resistant varieties. Furthermore, climatologists warn of potential drought risks associated with the switch to La Niña, highlighting the need for contingency planning. Despite the uncertainty, US peanut production is forecasted to rise, driven by increased domestic demand and crush, while export estimates may decrease. Southern states, including Virginia, exhibit significant planting progress, underscoring the dynamic nature of peanut farming across the US.

The Prospective Plantings report from the United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) revealed that peanut growers intend to plant 1.65 million acres in 2024, representing a marginal decrease from 2023. Significant increases are expected in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, while Texas anticipates a notable decline.

Optimizing Peanut Planting Strategies for the Upcoming Season 2024/25

As peanut planting season approaches in the United States (US), early indications suggest favorable conditions for an earlier start compared to previous years, given the earlier Easter and warming weather. Prioritizing Peanut Rx, a risk management tool developed for peanut farmers, and monitoring soil temperatures, particularly the three-day, four-inch average, alongside the extended forecast, is crucial for optimal germination and crop health.

Experts recommend insecticide application in the early planting to combat thrips. However, it may not suffice to prevent the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV), a destructive plant virus that affects various crops, including peanuts, tomatoes, and peppers. TSWV causes significant economic losses by stunting growth and reducing yields. Farmers have opted for varieties more resistant to TSWV during the early season, gradually transitioning to less resistant ones later on, especially if planting quickly within the May 7 to 10 window, which is historically optimal for reducing TSWV pressure and enhancing yields.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

While some producers expressed disappointment with the AU-NPL 17 variety grades in 2023, it's essential to recognize its distinct characteristics compared to Georgia-06G. Despite its lower grading potential, AU-NPL 17 has served as a valuable risk diversification tool, particularly in anticipated good years with adequate rainfall and heightened disease pressure. Its resilience offers flexibility during fungicide applications and delayed digging, mitigating risks associated with disease management.

Weather Trends for the Upcoming Peanut 2024/25 Season

Climatologists from the University of Georgia forecast potential weather patterns for the upcoming peanut season. With a switch to La Niña, there's a higher likelihood of drought, historically observed in the Southeast following rapid transitions like those in 1998, 2006, 2011, and 2016. Warmer temperatures and reduced precipitation may heighten water demand by peanut crops and increase evaporation, potentially leading to drought if La Niña develops rapidly. Dry conditions are expected in the fall, except where tropical storms intervene, though their occurrence and impact remain uncertain until formation.

Farmers intend to plant about the same peanut acreage as last year, at 1.65 million acres. Assuming 96% of sown acreage is harvested, and yields improve to 4 thousand pounds (lb) per acre, the US peanut production is forecasted to rise to 6.3 billion lbs from 5.9 billion lbs in the 2023/24 marketing year (MY). Peanut domestic food use in MY 2024/25 is projected to grow by 1.3% from the previous year. With higher supply and moderate food growth, peanut crush is expected to rise to 875 million lbs from 650 million lbs in MY 2023/24. Exports in MY 2024/25 are forecast at 1.3 billion lbs, a decrease of 0.2 billion lbs from the revised MY 2023/24 export estimate on higher South American supplies. MY 2023/24 peanut exports are up from last month to 1.5 billion lbs, driven by strong exports to Mexico, Canada, China, and the European Union (EU). Ending stocks of peanuts in MY 2024/25 are set to increase from last year reaching 2.3 billion lbs. With higher stocks, the peanut season-average farm price is forecast to drop from MY 2023/24 to USD 0.25/lb in MY 2024/25.

Table 1. Planted percentage of peanuts as of W19 2024

Source: USDA

Southern states like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas typically exhibit significant peanut planting activity. While Virginia is not as prominent in peanut production as some southern states, it also demonstrates substantial planting progress, particularly in W19 2024, surpassing its five-year average.

Anticipated Conditions and Considerations for the 2024 Peanut Planting Season in the US

The forecast for the upcoming peanut planting season in the US suggests favorable conditions for an earlier start, attributed to warmer weather. Farmers must prioritize resistant varieties and monitor soil temperatures for optimal germination and crop health. Climatologists warn of potential drought risks associated with the switch to La Niña, highlighting the need for contingency planning. Overall, stable planting acreage and improved yields are forecasted, but exports could drop slightly due to higher South American supplies, impacting season-average farm prices.

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