- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A record number of acres planted in peanuts is expected in Arkansas this year, according to an official with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Travis Faske, extension plant pathologist, said early estimates are about 22,500 acres planted in peanuts, mostly in the northeastern part of the state. Faske said Arkansas farmers are also growing another estimated 4,000 acres of peanuts north of the Arkansas state line in Missouri.

That’s about 22 percent more than the state’s previous high of 18,500 acres in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Farmers can see it making a profit,” Faske told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1sWAnCQ ).

Tab Wildy, a farmer near Manila in northeast Arkansas said cotton has been grown on his farm for about 30 years, but last year, he replaced some cotton acreage with peanuts as cotton became less popular and profitable.

“Last year’s the first year we tried,” he said. “We were trying to look for something to make a little bit more money,” Wildy said.

Last year, Wildy said, he planted around 750 acres of peanuts, but will double that this year.

Although Arkansas was designated a major peanut producing state in 2014 by the National Peanut Board, the crop is far behind the top peanut-producing state in the country, Georgia, which planted about 730,000 acres this year, according to the USDA.

Faske said the state’s climate provides the opportunity for high-quality peanuts on a consistent basis.

“Warm sunshine and warmer days benefit peanuts,” Faske said. “They like it hot and sunny.”

In Arkansas, the most common type of peanut that’s grown is runner peanuts, the kind used for peanut butter.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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