Mississippi peanut growers to discuss state association

Mississippi peanut growers will meet Jan. 23 at Collins, Miss., to lay the groundwork for forming a state grower association.

Since the elimination of the government peanut program and quotas, acreage has been increasing in non-traditional areas, including Mississippi.

“There’s a lot of interest in the crop — hardly a day goes by that I don’t get one or more phone calls from growers wanting information,” says Michael Howell, area Extension agent for the Mississippi State University Extension Service at Collins.

Acreage in the state has been doubling for the past two or three years, he said, and for 2006 he expects 20,000 acres or more in several counties in the south Delta, the Hattiesburg area, and in the Aberdeen/Houston/Calhoun City area.

“It’s mainly an economic thing,” Howell says. “Growers can pencil out a little profit on peanuts, and that’s often not the case with other crop alternatives, particularly given the high cost of fertilizer and other energy-related inputs.”

He says it appears there will be 60 or so growers planting peanuts this season.

“With the interest in the crop and the potential for expansion, many of the producers involved feel it would be advantageous to form a state association, and our meeting on the Jan. 23 will be to discuss that.”

The meeting will be held at the Forrest County Extension office, 952 Sullivan Drive, Hattiesburg, Miss., starting at 10 a.m.

Mississippi farmers have grown peanuts commercially since the early 1900s, Howell notes, but acreage was small because of the government quota program.

“Nearly all the acreage was in the Delta, about 6,000 acres in the Coahoma County area, and there was a buying station there, but when it closed those quotas were sold to growers in south Mississippi. When quotas were eliminated in the 2002 farm legislation, it opened the door for more people to start growing peanuts, and there has been a steady increase in acreage.”

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