Peanut harvest begins in Terry County, with lower yields from extreme heat and little rain

Published: Oct. 20, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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TERRY COUNTY, Texas (KCBD) - The South Plains is known for its cotton, but Terry County is also a big producer of peanuts that are shipped nationwide.

This year like many farmers, peanut growers are dealing with smaller yields.

A peanut farmer from Terry County, Mason Becker, said he farms many commodities but peanuts are always huge for his operation.

“Peanuts are really one of our staple commodities in Terry County where we are now, and also the surrounding counties Dawson County, Gaines County, Yoakum County,” Becker said.

Becker has been growing peanuts in this area for 14 years. He said they can grow well in this area.

“We have a sandy loam soil that really makes for bright hulls on the peanuts and a really good quality peanut,” Becker said.

These peanuts are shipped nationwide. Becker said that is one of the perks of the job.

“I love it. That’s one of the things that drives me as far as being a producer, a farmer, is knowing that I can produce a crop that I’m proud of and people all over the world will enjoy,” Becker said.

This summer, the South Plains experienced high temperatures with very little rain. Just like all commodities, that took a toll on the peanuts.

“Peanut yields specifically are probably going to be down. Where we could keep up with the irrigation they’ll be a little bit better,” Becker said.

Some producers like Bobby Harlan farm peanuts because they harvest better cash flow. In fact, growers are actually getting more per ton now.

“$750 a ton, which you can go back five years ago it was $450 to $500, so the prices went up like it has for everything,” Harlan said.

Harlan said that price increased because it costs more to produce the crop, but it’s still not enough to make a big profit with how high input costs are.

“I think it’s going to be about the same, about the same to less,” Harlan said. “Even with the higher price we’re getting, the price for our products that we’re buying for this crop are a lot higher.”

Harlan and Becker are both in harvesting phases for their crop. First they dig them up, let them dry, then separate them from the vines.