Organic peanut production on rise in N.M.

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Naveen Puppala of the New Mexico State University Agriculture Science Center in Clovis. Puppala’s area of specialty is in peanut breeding and genetics.

Q. Why is New Mexico ranked No. 1 in organic peanut production?
A. Mainly because we have a suitable climate. We do not get as much rain as other areas do. Other areas have higher humidity, which can cause more diseases in the plants. Weather is the number one reason for us.

Q. How many acres of organic peanuts are grown in New Mexico?
A. 10,000.

Q. How many pounds of peanuts can be harvested from 10,000 acres?
A. 25 million pounds. The average is 2,500 pounds per acre, which is good for us.

Q. What do farmers need to do in order to prepare to grow an organic crop of peanuts.
A. The farmer needs to stop applying synthetic chemicals for three calendar years in order to achieve certification.

Q. How does a farmer become certified to grow organic peanuts?
A. An application form needs to be completed, a registration fee paid, and they must have their farm inspected. It is a pretty major undertaking. If something goes wrong, the inspector can reject the application.

Q. How does an organic peanut farmer deal with bugs?
A. There are organic types available on the market.

Q. How can the organic peanuts be fertilized?
A. Organic compost can be used as fertilizer.

Q. What is the profit margin for an organic peanut crop?
A. A grower can easily make $500 to $600 per ton, though input costs are higher. The crop has to be hoed manually. An organic farmer will average about $500 more per ton than a conventional grower.

Q. What are the organic peanuts used for?
A. Mainly for peanut butter. A few are sold in-shell and a few are sold to candy companies for organic products.

— Compiled by PNT staff writer Casey Peacock. Edited for clarity and style.