Irrigation is the key to profitable peanut production in the Southwestern United States. The growing season consists of different phases with water demands varying for each developmental stage. Adequate soil moisture is needed for germination and stand establishment after planting, but water use is at its peak during the reproductive periods of bloom and pod fill. Water consumption starts to decrease as pods mature. However, moist soil is needed at harvest to ease digging.
Research conducted in Texas has shown the irrigation capacity required to maximize yields to be as high as 4.5 to five gallons per minute per acre. With declining irrigation levels, it is becoming more and more difficult to maximize yields on full circles. Therefore, many producers have opted to scale back and plant peanuts on half or a quarter of a pivot.
Despite these efforts, it is important to examine output across the pivot to ensure that uniform amounts are being applied. New nozzle packages may need to be installed in the event that distribution patterns are not uniform. This is especially important when peanuts begin blooming, as high humidity within the canopy needs to be maintained in order to facilitate pollination and aid in pegging.
In addition to irrigation capacity, water quality must also be assessed sometime during the growing season. Peanut is inherently sensitive to low-quality water, especially increased salts. The accumulation of salts in foliage leads to a burn that occurs on the margin of leaves and results in a loss of vine integrity. Peanut seeds are even more negatively affected by salt when imbibing water during germination.
Significant stand loss has been observed over the last few seasons as a result of such conditions; however, precipitation that has fallen over the past six to eight months should have leached any salts that may have accumulated in the seed zone during previous years. Adequate soil moisture and favorable temperatures should allow for quick germination and uniform emergence, which will help get this year’s crop off to a good start.
Late Planting Recommendations
Planting season for peanuts in Georgia: What is to be expected? Each year we talk about how planting should go in a typical year. The problem is, I have not observed a typical planting season in the last five or more years. The good news is growers have learned to adjust to the weather during planting season.
For the most part, growers have tried to plant their acres in April and the first part of May because of the increase in acreage. However, every year weather delays drive planting into early June for a few growers. The negative aspect to late May to early June planting is a decline in yield potential. That is not to say growers will not produce a high-yielding peanut crop with a late-planted peanut. It is just that in a typical year temperatures drop off in October, causing the date of maturity to be lengthened.
For these late-planted acres, plant the earliest maturing cultivar available, such as Georgia-06G, and try to do everything you can to manage weed and pest problems in a timely fashion to limit their impact on crop develop
Placement Is Everything
Most peanut growers are very diverse in their cropping systems and planting and other field operations can make May and early June challenging. It never hurts to double check calibrations for seeding rate and depth as well as in-furrow and broadcast sprays. We need four to five plants per foot of row for Virginia market types, and planting into moisture is important. Error on the side of planting deep, which is opposite the rule of thumb compared to cotton, to make sure soil moisture is adequate for germinating seed and for protection from increased soil temperatures for in-furrow inoculants, which are necessary for nitrogen fixation.
Make sure in-furrow sprays are reaching the seed. If soil caves in after seed drop and before delivery of spray, the insecticide and inoculant will never reach the place it needs to be. Make sure granular insecticide, primarily Phorate or Thimet, is applied at the correct rate. While peanut will ultimately be fine, phytotoxicity from these materials can be painfully obvious on sandy soils with little organic matter.
Make sure broadcast spray equipment is delivering what you think it is. If not, control might be less than you desire or crop injury and expense may be more than you desire. Check your math one more time. Sprayers can cover a lot of ground in a hurry and it doesn’t take much to make a mistake.
About 15 years ago, I sprayed a number of research trials at 20 gallons per acre but mixed using a 15 gallon per acre spray sheet. I had above-average weed control and peanut injury and had to find new space on the research station to do the trials again. A good friend of mine once told me that “there’s never enough time to do it right but there’s always enough time to do it over.”
For those making a living off of farming, economically, the stakes are certainly higher than finding another area on a research station to repeat a trial with the right calibration. The things we do at and around planting are critical and set the stage for the remainder of the season. And always, always be as safe as possible around the equipment and crop protection materials you use.
Thrips Require Attention
Many producers started planting peanuts in April this year because of the warmer temperatures and good moisture. You have all heard and know the recommendations about soil temperature for planting peanuts along with seeding rates. I never recommend lowering the seeding rate during the April planting window. However, April has passed and we need to cut some costs in production this year. During May, with ideal planting conditions, we can lower the seeding rate to five seed per foot.
Another costly item is thrips control. There are a few options for thrips control: Cruiser Maxx seed treatment, Thimet 20 G and Admire Pro at 10 ounces per acre liquid in-furrow. I would suggest considering which of these options would best fit your operation with the amount of late thrips pressure we have endured the past two seasons.
Also, I have seen a lot of prepared land this planting season. I recommend staying with the residual herbicides to help control some of these troublesome weeds that we face, and don’t rely on tillage or cultivation alone to battle those weeds.