Exploiting the Organic Peanut Market: Design of Production Systems for the Southeast

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $159,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Mark Boudreau
Hebert Green Agroecology, Inc.

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, cotton, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, grass (misc. perennial), hay


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, risk management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, indicators
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, competition, compost extracts, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, flame, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mulches - living, mating disruption, physical control, prevention, sanitation, trap crops, traps, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, holistic management
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    Peanut farming is woven into the fabric of agriculture in the Southeast, providing an excellent food with a great diversity of market outlets, yet the lucrative organic peanut niche is exploited almost entirely by growers in New Mexico and Texas. At one time the weed, disease, and insect problems in the humid Southeast may have explained this paradox, but many new techniques are now available to make organic peanuts a viable option for growers as they adjust to the new economics of peanuts since the quota system was abolished in 2002. New resistant cultivars, judicious use of cover crops and rotations, a better understanding of diversification for disease and insect management, weather-based advisories, organic pesticides, and so on, today allow growers in the Southeast to take economic and agronomic advantage of the organic peanut without undo risk. This could be encouraged by demonstrating how peanuts can be included in organic farm plans and tailored to individual circumstances, with documented effective techniques for specific production problems. The proposed project seeks to do just this by refining and integrating available techniques through experimental trials and on-farm application, using an iterative, whole-system approach. Ultimately a decision-making tool will be created and made available to growers and extension agents on-line. This tool, along with presentations, demonstrations, a publication, and a self-contained travelling exhibit designed for commercial shows and peanut or organic grower conferences, will help farmers integrate organic peanuts into their operations and sustain this vital component of small family farms.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Address specific problem areas of organic pest management in controlled, replicated trials. Specific techniques will be applied alone and in combination in multifactorial experiments the first year of study, and the best performing combinations evaluated over the two subsequent years. To efficiently assess controls for all pests, an Area of Concentration (AOC) will pertain to each of the three collaborating research locations reflecting the expertise at each location. Implement and assess rational management plans for organic peanuts on farms in the region. Experience, prior information, and results from Objective 1 (after the first year) will contribute to a management plan to include organic peanut production at a number of certified organic farms throughout the Southeast. Pests will be repeatedly monitored at each site and the efficacy of control techniques re-evaluated and updated each season. Develop a decision-making template as an aid to incorporating organic peanut production into particular farms. A computer- and paper-based tool which integrates extensive information on successful methods, and an algorithm to consider and compile them into a customized peanut management scheme, will be built, tested, and made available to growers and extension agents through a variety of entry points. Disseminate findings to growers in the southern region, Both traditional and novel outreach strategies will be used, including a publication, an internet site for Objective 3, and a traveling exhibit targeted to large gatherings of growers.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.