The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Prospective Plantings report released March 31 shows a 200,000 acre increase in peanut acreage in 2008 over 2007.
If growers plant the 1.43 million acres they indicated, the market will be in good shape, says Richard Barnhill, president of Mazur and Hockman, peanut brokerage in Albany, Ga.
"I think 20% would be too much," Barnhill says. "I think 15-16% is a good number. That's not too many acres. It's a nice, comfortable number."
Part of Barnhill's market equation includes continued export growth, that growth squeezed carryout for 2007. "It was a little tight this year," he says.
A 16% acreage increase, Barnhill says, "could possibly provide a little increase in our carryout, which would be good."
Barnhill's caveat regards the reliability of the numbers. Volatile prices in several commodities – and particularly in cotton – could mean last-minute changes in planting plans.
"Depending on when that information was gathered, farmers may not have considered the higher cotton prices," Barnhill says.
Six years into the post-quota era for peanuts, the non-traditional growing areas continue to increase acreage and traditional production areas that have shown significant decreases are picking up some acres. The planting intentions report shows increases in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Florida, New Mexico and North Carolina are dropping acreage. Virginia is staying even.
Here's the numbers for 2007 and the planting intentions for 2008:
Alabama: 160,000 to 180,000, for a 13% increase.
Florida: 130,000 to 120,000, for an 8% drop.
Georgia: 530,000 to 650,000 for a 23% increase.
Mississippi: 19,000 to 28,000, for a 47% increase.
New Mexico: 10,000 to 9,000 for a 10% drop.
North Carolina: 92,000 to 86,000, for a 7% drop.
Oklahoma: 18,000 to 20,000, for an 11% increase.
South Carolina: 59,000 to 65,000 for a 10% increase.
Texas: 190,000 to 250,000, for a 32% increase.
Virginia: Stays even with 22,000 acres.