Good yields are expected across the Carolinas and in Virginia.
By Amanda Huber
Crop conditions from South Carolina, through its northern neighbor and into Virginia were good this year with only a few problems here and there.
Marie Balota, associate professor and Extension specialist, Virginia Tech, Tidewater Agricultural Research and Experiment Center, says 2017 was a good year for peanut production in Virginia. USDA’s National Ag Statistics reported that Virginia producers planted 25,000 acres of peanuts this year, up from 21,000 last year.
Balota says a few peanut acres were planted in the last week of April, followed by the majority of peanut seed getting in the ground by mid-May and a few the last week of May.
“Not only was this late, but also this year’s weather was not conducive to early maturation of the pods,” she says. “For the Virginia market-type, 2,600 DD56 heat units, degrees Fahrenheit, are required to reach optimum maturity consistently across the current cultivars Bailey, Sullivan, Wynn and Emery.”
Delayed Maturity In Virginia
Balota says this need is typically reached by mid-September, but cool, wet soils from mid-August on, cloudy days and big vines obstructing the sun to warm the land delayed maturity to October for even early planted fields.
“Not just the degree day numbers are important, but also the quality of the heat units is important.”
Balota says another issue with the crop is that by end of August, some fields showed yellow plants with no obvious cause. Additions of ammonium sulfate or potash corrected this. “Wet and cool mid-season temperatures triggered Sclerotinia and leaf spot in September, but this was limited to only a few fields.”
For the most part, Virginia producers had good moisture for most of the season with variation among fields. But some were hoping rain from Hurricane Nate would help make it possible to dig. By about the first week of October, approximately 60 percent of the crop had been dug and 30 percent picked.
“From what I’ve seen so far, yields will be high again in Virginia this year,” Balota says.
S.C. Expects Good Yields
South Carolina increased planted acreage to 135,000 acres in 2017, and harvest of those peanuts were well underway by the first week of September says Dan Anco, South Carolina Extension peanut specialist.
“Hurricane Irma gave us some much needed rain and thankfully spared us the worst of its wrath,” Anco says. “The crop, overall, looks very good and yields could average 4,000 pounds per acre statewide.”
Make Records To Make Changes
North Carolina producers also hope to average around 4,000 pounds per acre on the 120,000 acres planted in the state. Billy Barrow, Extension director for Bertie County, says there are numerous fields in his county expecting this yield and more.
Barrow says Baileys have been the main variety for the past several years, but recent advancement of the high oleic varieties, Wynne and Sullivan, and in a couple years Emery and Bailey 2, are moving to replace the Bailey. “They are doing so without giving up the disease control package and yield potential of Bailey,” he says.
Production under varied weather conditions is another important factor. “As we push for higher yields, there are risks of a variety failing to perform under dry conditions.”
Barrow reminds producers to make notes of specific disease and weed problems in specific fields during harvest.
“Most growers are on long rotations of three to four years, but many of our soil-borne diseases, such as Sclerotinia, will occur even with long rotations,” he says. “Good records will give you a heads up on potential problems for that crop next time.”
Barrow says he has seen numerous Sclerotinia infestations and heavy leaf spot pressure in many fields this year.
“With that information what would you change? Records will give an idea of what worked and what didn’t,” he says.