Last month’s issue of The Peanut Grower focused on varieties. With it and all the online resources available showing the variety trials from around the states, you have a lot of information to look at. You should look at trials that are near you, but I would also look at other locations to see if those varieties performed the same there.
If so, you know it must be a superior variety. If not, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good variety, but the variability may help us find the strengths and weaknesses of a variety.
There are a lot of variables from one end of the peanut belt to the other. Don’t select a variety based on one location’s results or one year’s results. Look at multiple-year averages when making one of the biggest decisions: selecting a variety.
Georgia 06G has been the main variety for about 15 years. It has shown consistent results in varying conditions for years. Everyone has been confident in that variety when deciding what to plant for their farm. The issue now is we know it won’t last forever. As we transition to another variety, we need to have the same confidence in the next variety that will be planted to most of the acreage.
As you look through the data, you will see that newer varieties can outperform the industry standard Georgia 06G. However, we haven’t found the variety that can outperform 06G in all circumstances. Because of this, we are going to have to focus on some of the positive attributes of these newer varieties and use them in the situations where we can benefit most. This will help spread the risk from having all of our eggs in the 06G basket.
Remember, yield is important, but it is not everything. Other factors, such as seed size, grade, resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus, leaf spot and white mold, plus vine size, maturity range and oil chemistry are also important. Consider all these factors when trying to split up your planting of different varieties.
Top 13 List For A Successful Crop
I prepared this column in the middle of our peanut production meetings in North Carolina. Like many states and organizations, we are using a virtual format. I’m also doing this for the three courses I am teaching on campus this spring semester. This is very different but necessary. I am looking forward to 2022, not to wish my life away, but so I can see people again and discuss peanuts together (and have a good meal.)
One thing I provide in the meetings is a list of the top 13 items to consider when growing peanuts. Not sure how I ended up at 13, and I might adjust to 12 or 14 because I am not sure how that whole bad luck thing works. My peanut list is straightforward and for many the information is not new. But the things on the list are very important, and if done correctly create an opportunity for growers to be successful. So here goes:
1) Apply nutrients based on soil test results and lime to obtain a pH of 5.8 to 6.2. If using an average for the field, lime for 6.2 to make sure you get the areas of the field with low pH up to at least 5.8.
2) Avoid excessive magnesium and potassium, but apply these elements if the soil test calls for them.
3) Avoid fields with zinc. In North Carolina, a zinc index of 250 is the threshold with pH playing a role in the amount of possible injury. There is no correction for an issue with zinc.
4) Establish good rotations. Cotton, corn, sorghum and sweet potatoes are best, but tobacco and soybeans can be OK if placed in the right sequence with peanuts and other crops.
5) Plant improved varieties in May. The middle of May is often the best, but sometime in May works well.
6) Plant at least five seed per foot of row to get at least four plants to optimize yield.
7) Plant in conventional tillage with beds unless you have experience with reduced tillage. Setting the field up in the fall for efficient digging and minimizing pod loss can be traced back to seedbed preparation in the spring. Sandy fields give the greatest flexibility, but some caution is warranted on finer-textured soils.
8) Irrigate if possible. Target the first irrigation to help initial pegs be successful.
9) Inoculate with Bradyrhizobia for nitrogen fixation. Historically, we have observed a 40:1 return on investment on new ground with no history of peanuts and a 4:1 return on investment in rotated fields when peanuts were planted in recent years and either a liquid or granular inoculant was successfully delivered in the seed furrow at planting.
10) Apply calcium at pegging. Use the one-time rate for all Virginia market types and at least a half rate for all runner market types.
11) Apply the micronutrients boron and manganese as needed. Make sure the products you use have enough essential element to make a difference when considering cost.
12) Dig and harvest in a timely manner based on pod mesocarp color, and try to get your digging and harvesting capacities in line for your acreage.
13) Control pests using integrated pest management practices. Be timely and incorporate non-chemical practices whenever possible to decrease selection pressure for evolved resistance to all classes of pesticides.
In my experience, if you put all of these practices into play, you can be successful. The major culprit can be poor weather at critical times, but regardless of the weather we need to put ourselves in a position to be successful. Sometimes we get lucky, but I do think we also create some of our luck by being prepared and working hard.
Finally, I do have a number 14. It does not apply directly to peanut production but relates to a virtual peanut meeting we just had. As I rambled on about various aspects of peanut production and pest management, I could see one person on my screen listening intently, but then for about 20 minutes he took a good, solid afternoon nap.
Number 14 is for us to remember that our audio and video might be on for all to hear and see in these virtual meetings. Not to say that it doesn’t happen when we are all together, plenty of good naps have been taken in those meetings as well.
Q & A From Production Meetings
The 2021 peanut growing season is closing in on Georgia growers fast. The question is will everyone be ready? To help prepare, growers, Extension specialists and county agents have been busy sharing information through every avenue possible — Zoom meetings, phone calls, email and small in-person sessions per Centers For Disease Control guidelines.
The University of Georgia peanut team, along with department administration, adapted production meetings to a virtual format to ensure our continued outreach efforts and to provide clientele with up-to-date information and access to Extension specialists.
Although untraditional, Zoom meetings have been well received and attended. Who better to adapt to something new than our growers who alter farm management each season to produce the best crop possible.
Below are questions received during production meetings along with the appropriate answers or recommendation.
■ How is the quality of the seed for this year?
Seed quality should be significantly better this year as harvest conditions in 2020 were much improved over 2019. This does not mean you will not have seed issues. Make sure to ask for the percent germination for each lot of seed you purchase. Seed storage is also important. Do not store seed in a place that has significant fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity. If you receive seed over time from the sheller, make sure to adhere to the first in, first out rule.
■ Will in-furrow fertilizers improve plant stands and emergence?
First, this is not a recommended practice in peanut. However, there is an increasing trend toward in-furrow fertilizers being sold for application in the past few years. Based on the seed complaint calls I have received, I can honestly say in-furrow fertilizers can and will cause significant stand loss and delayed emergence in some situations of up to seven days.
I advise growers to be very cautious in what they put in furrow with peanut seed. Currently, the only thing recommended in furrow with seed is insecticides, fungicides, nematicides and inoculants. Do not put fertilizers in furrow with seed.
■ Does it benefit to apply an inoculant every year?
No. Fields in a three- year or less rotation should have enough residual bacteria in the soil to provide nodulation and nitrogen fixation for high-yielding peanut. However, above and beyond our research data, and considering that weather events can alter bacteria levels in fields from year to year, applying an inoculant each year is one of the best insurance policies to guarantee adequate nodulation and nitrogen fixation. Most inoculants cost $8 to $10 per acre.
■ An inoculant is needed and should be applied for fields out of peanut for more than four years. What type of inoculant is best to use?
Based on research, liquid inoculants are more effective than granular and hopper box treatments (liquid>granular>hopper box) in fields where peanuts have not been planted in four or more years. In a rotation of less than four years, the difference among inoculant types is minimized. The most important thing is to apply an inoculant of any type to make sure you get adequate nodulation/nitrogen fixation.
Feel free to contact your county Extension office for assistance. You can also find information on UGA Peanut Team website at ugapeanutteam.org.
Soil Temperature Data On Mesonet
Texas peanut growers had a tough 2020 growing season because of prolonged drought, especially in the West Texas area.
Additionally, the first killing frost seems to come earlier each year, which is what we have experienced in the past three years in the Southwest region. Despite challenging environmental conditions and ever-increasing input costs, growers will need to do what they can to minimize cost while maintaining yield potential. This is not an easy job to do; however, fundamental agronomic practices can assist in important decision makings for profitable peanut production.
Knowing the temperature of the top 4 inches of soil is critical in determining the best time for peanut planting. Optimum soil temperature for peanut germination is at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit for three consecutive days without a cold front in the forecast. In 2020, cold snaps and dry soil conditions slowed germination of peanuts and cotton. The longer seeds stay in the soil, the more susceptible they become to both soilborne and seedling diseases.
Before making a decision to plant, check current soil temperatures for your area on the West Texas Mesonet database at http://rain.ttu.edu/tech/1-output/soil.php?date=04282020. Establishment of a good stand is the first step for successful peanut production for the 2021 growing season.
Water and soil testing in the fruiting zone will help you finalize the in-season application of macro- and micronutrients. Soil testing is the only way to find soil-residual nutrients to determine a fertilization program appropriate for your crop.
For those who rotate with cotton, there were many abandoned cotton acres due to the early freeze in late October. If a previous crop yield was lower than average or even abandoned due to drought or other reasons, there is a high chance that the soil residual potassium and other nutrients may be increased.
After crop emergence, soil sampling in the pegging zone will help you determine how much calcium is needed for the season.
Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for peanut production, and a lack of calcium can lead to increased incidence of unfilled pods and pod rot. Make sure to test soils and water, and adjust the fertilizer application based on the residual nutrient status.