Sustainable Peanut Farming in Water Shortage’s Wake

By June 2, 2016 April 7th, 2017 Blog, News Posts
sustainable peanuts

Peanuts are water efficient compared to other nuts. And the majority of peanuts produced in the United States rely exclusively on rainwater. In the Southwest, however, the drier climate in the region provides some natural relief against diseases that appear in more humid conditions. So irrigation is required and preferred. But the ongoing drought has put a strain on water resources, and has motivated peanut farmers to invest in new research and techniques to sustain their farms.

New Mexico farmer Jim Chandler is a third generation peanut sustainable peanut farmingproducer in Portales. His family has grown a variety of crops over the years, but peanuts have been a regular part of their farm since 1965. For him, growing peanuts is almost a personal commitment to continuing a crop that helped his farm survive.

“Peanuts…they’re a unique crop,” said Chandler. “Right when we first started farming…we had a big hail storm in the spring and it totally destroyed all of our cotton, and most of our milo, but the peanuts survived it. They’re a tough little critter when they’re small and that year had it not been for peanuts we could’ve gone under.”

In return for peanuts being a saving grace during his early years of farming, Chandler is contributing to research that will help peanut farmers in the region weather this current drought.

“I’ve been actively involved with the New Mexico Peanut Research Board for 30 years…and we’re continually working on new ways to produce crops with lower inputs,” said Chandler. “One of the big things we’re working on now is a dry tolerant peanut. And we’ve made some significant headway on that. We’ve got peanuts down to about 20 percent less moisture, less water than our original varieties while still maintaining a good yield so we’re hoping to see that research continue.”

Chandler understands that sustainability means being able to farm in perpetuity. He wants to leave the farm to his children, so investing in conservation research means investing in his future and theirs.

“Sustainability and conservation is kind of hand-in-hand. To me sustainability means my family’s going to stay with it. It’s going to be economically feasible and we’re going to have land that’s capable of supporting us,” said Chandler.