February 09, 2011 Edition

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Golden Peanut encourages
farmers to plant Spanish crop

Shantelle Prater
Staff Writer

Golden Peanut Company's Dennis Robbins, a retired consultant who worked for the company for 35 years, met with local farmers on Thursday at Captain Catfish in Walnut Ridge to discuss peanut production in Lawrence County.

Peanut shelling and processing companies, including Golden Peanut Company headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., became interested in the county's farm land after Walter Rice, a farmer from College Station, Tenn., successfully produced a peanut crop in the area last year.

According to Robbins, Rice averaged 3,800 pounds per acre last year in peanuts on his 525-acre farm.

"This is my first time to visit the area but the more I see the more I like," said Robbins about the local farming potential. Although Rice grew runner-type peanuts, Robbins encouraged farmers to grow Spanish-type peanuts, based on the area's average temperatures and weather conditions.

"Spanish peanuts, which harvest in 120 days, could suit you better than the 140-day harvest runners," Robbins said. The various types of peanuts are distinguished by branching habits and branch length. Spanish peanuts grow in an up-right position, while runner-type peanuts grow near the ground. Most Spanish peanuts are grown in Texas and Oklahoma, while most runner peanuts are found in the southeastern region.

"The main advantage of Spanish over runner is that the early maturity will allow earlier harvesting and reduce the risk of harvest losses," said Robbins. During the meeting Robbins discussed two Spanish-type peanuts, AT-9899 and Tamnut OL-06, both of which Robbins feels would be successful in the county.

"The Tamnut OL-06 is better suited for the area though, rather than the AT-9899, because it is better suited for more southern-growing areas," Robbins added.

According to Robbins, there are three keys to Spanish peanuts: first, the maturity date; second, pricing for Spanish peanuts is competitive with runer-type peanuts; and third, Spanish peanuts have a reduced-seed rate per acre, which means less seed cost per acre.

"Runners can be grown in the area but I think Spanish peanuts should also be considered because the Spanish peanuts mature faster," Robbins said. Robbins also stated that Spanish peanuts have a low tolerance for Tomato Spot Wilt, but local farmers stated the disease has not affected the area.

"Golden Peanut Company just wants the opportunity to work with you if you decide to grow peanuts," said Robbins, who assured farmers that Golden Peanut Company was in it "for the long haul."

"We will be around here for a while," Robbins said. "Golden Peanut Company has interest in buying peanuts, particularly Spanish peanuts grown in this area." Officials from Clint Williams Company, based in Madill, Okla., also met with local farmers and agriculture industry representatives on Jan. 12.

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