By Marc Schoder
Jump-started by an abnormally wet winter, the peanut crop in the Portales area is off to a promising start.
“This is one of the best peanut crops that we have had in several years,” said Jimmie Shearer, president of Sunland Peanuts. Shearer said above-average pre-plant moisture has the peanuts in good shape entering the critical pegging stage during which peanuts are formed.
“We still need more heat units for this year as well as timely rains,” Shearer said. “Ideal growing conditions for peanut plants are if it’s below 95 degrees during the day and above 65 degrees at night.”
Extension Agent Floyd McAlister estimated that the peanut crop to Roosevelt County is worth $7 million a year.
Although all peanuts in Roosevelt County are irrigated, Shearer said a good rain would do wonders.
“Water that is pumped from the ground it has a lot of impurities in it,” Shearer said. “The rainfall adds nutrients to the ground where it’s more beneficial than irrigation.
He said the rainfall also makes the ground soft and cool which helps in production of the peanut.
Roosevelt County farmer Dickey Robbins said some of his crops have been showing signs of stress.
“Moisture will be the magic number,” Robbins said. “It will make all the difference in the world.”
According to Cannon Air Force Base meteorologist James Kratzer, the city of Portales has received 4.67 inches since the start of the year.
“This is well below normal for this area,” said Kratzer. Portales averages around 9 inches of rain through July, according to Kratzer.
Like Robbins, Jim Chandler of Roosevelt expected his crop to be better this year.
“I would see us having a better harvest this year if everything continues like it has,” Chandler said.
Last year, 36 million pounds of peanuts were harvested in Roosevelt County, according to Shearer.
According to New Mexico Agricultural Statistics Service’s weekly report for July 25, 89 percent of the peanuts in New Mexico were reported in either good or excellent condition.