1. Field Selection / Rotation: Peanuts require well-drained land and do best on soils with a sandy surface. Avoid fields with recent soybean history as best you can and eliminate from future rotation. Sustainable production requires a minimum of two years, three are better, of cotton or corn, not legumes, in between peanut crops.
2. Soil test: P and K are seldom needed if previous crop has adequate fertility. Use a Peanut Fertility Check List to compare soil test values to check for sufficiency on all nutrient levels. Zinc can severely stunt or kill peanuts.
Raise pH to reduce toxicity risk in high Zinc fields. Soil Calcium levels above 600 pounds per acre and Ca to K ratio of 3:1 or higher are desirable. Raise soil Calcium with lime if pH allows.
3. Inoculate: Use only liquid in-furrow inoculants, which has been most consistent and is less likely to clog. Inoculants are live bacteria; handle with care. Make sure a steady stream hits the center in the bottom of the open furrow and gets into moisture.
Use 5 gallons minimum. Do not use chlorinated water. Don’t plant too shallow, less than 1.5 inches. Always plant into moisture; dry soil kills inoculant and causes erratic emergence. Peanuts can be planted up to 3 inches deep if necessary for good moisture.
4. Reduce tomato spotted wilt virus risk: Plant resistant varieties to the extent possible. Bailey, Sugg, Sullivan, Georgia 06G, Ga 09B, Florida-07 and more have good virus resistance.
April to early May planting increases virus risk. The first week of May still has increased virus risk, but large acreages need to get started planting.
Get a consistent, uniformly emerged stand. To reach the target of 4 plants/row ft, plant 6 seed/ft, or > 5/ft on Virginia types or large-seeded runners. Control thrips with in-furrow insecticide.
Strip tillage and twin-row planting reduce tomato spotted wilt.
5. Establish and maintain weed control: The first 45 days are critical. Valor (3 oz) is recommended for severe pigweed pressure. Valor must be applied within 2 days of planting, preferably watered in. Prowl/Sonolan or Dual can be tankmixed. Do not plant shallower than 1.5 inches to reduce Valor injury.
The first flush of weeds usually needs Gramoxone (+ Basagran or Storm) treatment before Cadre application (30 – 45 DAP).
Dual can be applied postemergence with Gramoxone or Cadre instead of, or in addition to, PPI for extended pigweed control. Use 2,4-DB, Blazer, Cobra or Storm where needed for escapes. Select or Poast Plus for grass.
6. Give them calcium: All Virginia type peanuts should get 300 lb/A Ca (1,500 – 2,000 lbs landplaster) at bloom. Calcium must be available in the pegging zone when the first pods begin to form. Better early than late with land plaster.
7. Prevent foliar and soil disease: Although peanuts on new land should be relatively free of diseases, severe white mold or CBR loss can still occur, particularly in fields with a soybean history. Peanuts have to be protected from a complex of both soil and foliar diseases with a preventative program. Start leaf spot treatment no later than 45 DAP and white mold treatment at 60 DAP.
8. Irrigation management: Peanut is an indeterminate, drought-tolerant crop, but irrigation can be critical to maximize returns. The critical water-use period is during pod fill at approximately 60 – 110 DAP when peanuts need 1.0 – 1.5 inches per week minus rain.
9. Check for insects: Cutworms occasionally defoliate peanuts in late June or early July. Beginning in late June, watch for leafhopper “hopperburn” starting on field edges. Corn earworms, followed by fall armyworms, feed primarily from the last week of July through August. Velvetbean caterpillars sometimes strip peanuts in the lower part of the state in late season.
Fully lapped, unstressed peanuts can tolerate up to 8 worms/ft. The threshold is 4 worms/ft on unlapped or stressed peanuts. There are some significant soil pests (lesser cornstalk borer, wireworm, burrower bug, rootworm), but the greatest threats (borers & burrower bugs) can be managed with irrigation.
10. Digging decisions: More money is made or lost on digging decisions than any other aspect of production. Medium maturity Virginia types generally reach harvest maturity in about 130 to 135 DAP under typical South Carolina growing conditions.
But many practical considerations figure into when the first field is dug, including vine health, acreage, equipment availability, when you started planting and weather predictions.
Runner types usually mature later and are more forgiving at harvest. Some varieties require greater than 150 days to mature. Spot check maturity at about 120 DAP. Use the pod blast or hull scrape method to sort pods into color piles and determine which fields should be dug first.
Practical considerations sometimes prevent waiting on full maturity in every field. If digging before 130 DAP, use pod color to make sure you’re not too early; if waiting after 140 DAP, make sure you’re not late.
Digger operation: Staying on the row with the digger is a must. GPS guidance can quickly pay for itself in peanuts. Matching digger ground speed to shaker speed, digger running depth and soil conditions are also critical.
Source: Clemson Cooperative Extension Peanut Money-Maker 2019 Production Guide.