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SANTEE -- The 40th annual South Carolina Peanut Growers’ Meeting was held at the Santee Conference Center on Jan. 24, the day after two inches of rain fell in the region, keeping farmers out of their fields.

Speakers included Dell Cotton, Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association manager; David Jordan, North Carolina State University William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Crop Science and Extension specialist; Jeff Dunne, peanut breeder, NCSU; Bob Redding, Redding Firm, Washington D.C.; Maria Balota, Extension specialist, Virginia Tech; Tyron Spearman, the Spearman Agency, Tifton, Georgia; Marianne Copelan, S.C. Department of Agriculture marketing specialist; and representatives of the National Peanut Board, Clemson University specialists and other agencies.

Richard Rentz of Bamberg County, chairman of the South Carolina Peanut Board, was one of the speakers.

“We look at the distribution of the peanuts in South Carolina over the past year, and they are pretty evenly distributed from the Savannah River to the North Carolina line along the coastal plain," Rentz said. "We went and asked for another seat, and we were able to get an eighth seat. So we now have eight board members.”

Dell Cotton, manager of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association, compared the number of acres of peanuts planted in the last year and this year.

"Acreage got cut back substantially from last year to this year – 20 percent plus; 2018 was the least amount of acres planted since 2014," Cotton said. "The reason we cut back on the acres planted is because: (1) the prices, (2) because the cotton prices are a little better than they have been in the past couple of years and (3) because we didn’t have generic acres anymore. Generic acres made a big difference, and the loss of generic acres to peanuts this past year made a lot of difference to the number of acres that got planted.”

He said peanut yield figures for the past year are tentative since the crop is still being harvested and graded.

"Even though Georgia had one of the worst storms, they are still going to have a great yield. Production was down approximately 26 percent, but that was mainly due to the lesser number of acres being planted," Cotton said.

He said the supply level of peanuts exceeds demand, causing forfeitures.

“If we’re going to have forfeitures, we have to have some place to be able to send them,” Cotton said.

He also talked about breeding and genetics, different peanut varieties and their qualities, costs per acre and yields per acre and insect control. In addition, Cotton discussed peanut research projects including hull strength testing, drought tolerance and wild species introgression.

Other specialists discussed different tillage practices, the influence of soil pH on peanut yield, estimated economic return on investment and weed control.

The group received information on the key peanut provisions in the Farm Bill, such as the $535 reference price, $355 Marketing Loan, Separate Peanut Payment Limit and storage and handling provisions. Additional provisions  PLC/ARC Election Options, Base Acres, Yield Updates and reference price calculations.

J. Tyron Spearman of the Spearman Agency gave a presentation titled "2018-2019 Peanuts, Politics & Markets," highlighting the government shutdown, tweets, sustainability, forfeitures and tariffs.

He provided the 2018 peanut crop numbers as follows: estimated production, 2,735,500 tons; inspected crop, 2,641,266 tons; production, a 23-percent reduction; and yield loss, 94,399 tons.

South Carolina's peanut acreage for 2018 was 82,000 acres; yield, 3,500 pounds/acre; production, 143,500 tons (down 39.2 percent) and inspected, 117,285 tons.

Other speakers in the afternoon were Marianne Copelan, marketing specialist with the S.C. Department of Agriculture; Dan Anco, Clemson Extension peanut specialist; Kendall Kirk, Clemson precision agriculture engineer.

Keegan Treadaway, National Peanut Board marketing and communications specialist, ended the day by discussing opportunities for peanuts.

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Contact the writer: ldhntr12@yahoo.com.

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