Virginia Crop: A Mixed Bag

An increase in splits meant a lower percentage of total sound mature kernels in the Virginia crop.

An increase in splits meant a lower percentage of total sound mature kernels in the Virginia crop.

 

Be sure moisture can’t get back into stored peanuts and create conditions for mold growth.

Editor’s Note: Splits and sprouting are two words no producer wants to hear in relation to a peanut crop. But according to Maria Balota, associate professor of crop physiology from the Virginia Tech Tidewater AREC, 2015 was a most unusual year in Virginia. Her report follows:

Altogether, 2015 was a difficult year for peanut production in the Virginia-Carolina region with some superior yield and quality in Virginia in comparison to North Carolina and South Carolina.

But even in Virginia, yield and quality varied with the field. Farmer yields seem to range from 3,500 to 4,000 pounds per acre in Virginia; those harvested before the storm produced much better, in the 4,000 to 5,000 pounds per acre range, according to reports.

Peanut digging started this year two weeks earlier, around mid-September in most counties, than in most years. This is because of the combination of genetics, early maturing cultivars and weather.

An increase in splits meant a lower percentage of total sound mature kernels in the Virginia crop.

An increase in splits meant a lower percentage of total sound mature kernels in the Virginia crop.

Uniform Crop

The summer was mostly dry and some fields were more affected by drought than others. But, it wasn’t one long drought. There were periods of cool and wet alternating with longer periods of warm and dry. For example, May was warm and dry and suitable for early flowering. June and half of July were cooler and moist, which is perfect for peg and pod growth.

Overall, it was a uniform crop set early on in the season and not two crops like we usually see in dry years. By mid-September, 2,600 heat unites had been accumulated and that was sufficient for Bailey and Sugg, the most widely grown cultivars in Virginia this year, to mature.

Interrupted Harvest

Harvest was moving along smoothly with more than 85 percent of the Virginia crop dug by mid-October. Yields of those picked before Hurricane Joaquin and then dug after the storm are around

Increased moisture resulted in more sprouting in 2015.

Increased moisture resulted in more sprouting in 2015.

4,000 pounds per acre for yield and grades are good. Peanuts dug just prior to the storm suffered from pod shedding, which will reduce yield, and peanuts dug a week ahead of the hurricane were in poor shape and some segregation two peanuts with a high content of damaged kernels were sold. A lot of sprouting was also observed.

It was good that we did not get any frost damage in early October. The weather after the storm was great for finishing picking.

I did not hear of any borrower bug damage in Virginia like folks in South Carolina and some parts of North Carolina experienced.

Increased Sound Splits

Prolonged wet conditions may have increased sound splits.

Prolonged wet conditions may have increased sound splits.

Another common and unfortunate problem Virginia farmers encountered in 2015 was a lower percentage of Sound Mature Kernels (SMK) and an increase in Sound Splits (SS) than in 2014.
Usually SS kernel content is in the range of one to two percent, but some loads were over 10 percent this year, depending on the field. In particular, increased SS were found in fields where peanuts were under increased moisture conditions for a long period of time.

Monitor Stored Peanuts

I have not heard any reports of aflatoxin, but producers need to watch peanuts stored in conditions where moisture can get back into the pods. This happened to my research peanuts. Even though we dried them to seven to eight percent moisture after picking, keeping them in a storage room where moisture was high during the rainy November allowed moisture to be absorbed back into the pods and for mold to develop. We had to re-dry some, but I expect there to be a good seed supply for the next year.

2015 Yields for Bailey Cultivar for Different Locations

2015 Yields for Bailey Cultivar for Different Locations

Article by Dr. Maria Balota, Associate Professor Crop Physiology, Virginia Tech Tidewater AREC.