- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

SIKESTON, Mo. (AP) - The work is slow and the payout is peanuts but the Deane family is still excited about their latest venture.

Triple D Farms of Sikeston, a multi-generational family farm operation, has 250 acres of peanuts planted on ground just west of the railroad tracks north of Sikeston.

“We planted them in May of this year,” said Mark Deane of Triple D Farms. “They are in the growing process right now.”

The decision to give peanuts a try didn’t come easily or quickly, the Sikeston Standard Democrat (http://bit.ly/1N48Eqf ) reported.

The idea first came up some years ago, recalled his brother, Bill Deane, also with Triple D Farms.

“My son, Clay, was in college at Mississippi State, had some friends who grew them,” Bill Deane said. “He was wanting to get us into peanuts back then.”

The Deanes held off at that time but then the idea came up again when their niece, Addie Vaughn, married Alex Mayfield, a young man from Alabama who works for a company across the state line in Mississippi that “sells peanut machinery, seed and chemicals specifically for peanuts,” Mark Deane said. “They are big into peanuts down there.”

Mark Deane, Bill Deane and “the third D of Triple D Farms,” their father, Bill Deane III, looked at what it would take to farm peanuts, weighed those costs with other economic factors and decided it was a risk worth taking.

“We ran budgets on all of our other field crops that we typically raise and things this year didn’t look promising on any of it,” said Mark Deane.

“Times are kind of tough with crop prices and commodity prices the way they are,” said Bill Deane. “We were looking at profitability and peanuts looked as good or better than everything else, so we thought we’d give it a try.”

“We are pretty excited about it,” Mark Deane said. “It’s another thing we can add to our farming experience, I guess.”

To harvest peanuts, Triple D Farms needed a peanut digger-inverter that pulls the cluster of peanuts up from where they grow just under the surface and flips the plant over - roots up, leaves down - where they are left to dry in the field for about a week.

“Then we come through with the combine that is specifically made for peanuts,” Mark Deane said. “It picks up the entire plant and separates the peanuts from the plant residue, spits the trash out the back and puts the peanuts, hopefully, into a bin or storage area on the combine.”

He noted peanut combines run a bit slower than combines for other crops - about 2 to 3 mph instead of 3-5 mph.

And harvest isn’t the only part that is “more time consuming” than other crops, Mark Deane said. “Everything about it is slower than our other crops, typically. The peanut seed is a little bigger, so you plant a little slower than other crops.”

But it all appears to be going well so far, according to Bill Deane.

“It’s all new to us - it’s a learning experience for us this year,” he said. “I guess we will find out this fall how it turns out.”

Harvest will be “late September to October, depending on the weather,” said Mark Deane. “It is very similar to what rice is.”

Coordinating harvest times may be the biggest challenge Triple D Farms faces this year.

“It will kind of be a juggling act for us when harvest time comes,” Mark Deane said. “At the tail of corn, we will have peanuts, rice, cotton and soybeans all coming off right at the same time. We are raising six crops right now - we have wheat, also.”

Mark Deane said they have grown some peanuts in Dunklin County and Pemiscot County and down into Arkansas but doesn’t think anyone has tried a peanut crop in Scott County in decades, if ever.

“There had been some peanuts years and years ago in the area,” Mark Deane said. “There was a family that raised peanuts in Stoddard County - I think the name was Lumsben, I’m guessing maybe 30 years ago - and I don’t know how it went for them.”

When it comes to “the high-tech stuff - GPS, computers,” Bill Deane said, “we leave that to the boys.”

But, he said, “I don’t mind learning something new like raising peanuts. It kind of makes it more hectic - doesn’t make it easier for us. But the name of the game is making money.”

“We think it’s going to work out,” Mark Deane said. “Peanuts are very similar to cotton in what they like weather-wise and soil-wise and our family has raised cotton for five generations.”

Having the equipment and knowledge to be able to choose between several different crops means they have the option to “go a little heavier on the crops that look like they are going to do better in the year, based on prices,” said Bill Deane. “We are really blessed in this area where we live - it’s a diversified area for agriculture.”

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Information from: Standard Democrat, http://www.standard-democrat.com

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