Know The Quality Of Irrigation

by Jason Woodward, Texas Agri-Life Extension
Plant Pathologist

While the Southwest has not completely broken the grip of drought, soil moisture going into the 2015 growing season is much better than the past few years. This is a result of rainfall received late last season and precipitation that has fallen during the winter months. This and other factors appear to have increased interest in peanut production by some growers.

When considering peanuts in this region, several factors come into play, including irrigation capacity and water quality, as well as variety selection. Peanuts require 24 to 28 inches of rain within the season to maximize yield, thus when irrigation is limited, it is best to plant fewer acres within a field and concentrate water. Planting too many acres with inadequate irrigation capabilities runs the risk of experiencing a shortage of water during flowering, pegging and pod fill. In addition to irrigation amount, quality of irrigation water is an increasingly important thing to consider. Salinity is a potential problem throughout much of Texas. As water quality declines, injury and reduced yields may occur; therefore, growers may want to sample irrigation systems to evaluate the electrical conductivity (EC) or sodium absorption ratio (SAR), both of which are commonly used to determine water quality. Irrigation, in addition to other factors such as soil type, climate and disease pressure, impacts production in the Southwest and will affect variety selection. Furthermore, there has been somewhat of a shift away from runner peanuts to other market-types, such as Spanish and Virginia peanuts. When selecting a variety, it is important to evaluate varieties based on regional performance. While yield and grade attributes must be given top priority, other aspects such as disease tolerance, growth habit, maturity and seed quality should also be considered.

A number of new runner, Spanish and Virginia varieties have been released and will be available this season. If possible, newer varieties should be slowly integrated into farming operations and planted on a smaller proportion of acres, until producers gain experience with them and are comfortable growing such varieties. Contact your Extension office for more information about peanut production or variety selection.

Weigh Costs Of Production

by David Jordan, North Carolina State University
Extension Agronomist

Moving into late winter, there continues to be some unknowns about contracts in the V-C region and subsequent plantings. The 2014 season brought high yields and grades for Virginia-market types, which has contributed to the substantial stocks of peanuts.

Unlike most years, there is greater interest in producing runner-market types in the Virginia-Carolina region given the lower price projections and the generally lower cost of production for runner types compared with Virginias. However, when comparing production costs, the margin is narrower when one compares jumbo runners with the extremely popular Virginia-type variety Bailey.

Seeding rates (pounds/acre) and the need for gypsum are much closer for the current varieties compared to some of the historical comparisons such as Georgia Green and Gregory or CHAMPS. Also, the spike in Sclerotinia blight in the V-C region in 2014 reminds us that susceptibility of varieties can also influence yield potential and/or production costs.

The disease package for Bailey and its size (seed cost) can make the difference in costs of production between the market types very narrow. The decision to grow runners or Virginias needs to be considered in great detail.

A consistent theme being discussed is where will the peanuts be stored if we have another big crop? Regardless of the market type, it is essential to make sure whatever you grow has a home.

Seed Size May Offer Savings

by Scott Monfort, University of Georgia
Extension Agronomist

With peanut acres likely increasing in 2015 because of the Farm Bill and suppressed prices of other commodities, growers need to take several things into account to achieve maximum returns. Cultivar selection is by far one of the most important decisions a grower will make.

For the most part, cultivar selection has been an easy decision the last few years. Very few cultivars have made their mark like Georgia-06G in overall performance until recently. Growers now have more choices of high-yielding, disease-resistant cultivars. For example, Georgia-12Y is one of the first runner cultivars released with superior resistance to both white mold and tomato spotted wilt virus compared to other runners. Several other cultivars in the early stages of release also have a high level of resistance to peanut root-knot nematode, all of which have high yield and grade potential comparable to Georgia-06G.

Other key characteristics to note in several of the recently released cultivars are seed size and maturity. In the last five to seven years, seed size of the popular cultivars have increased causing growers to plant in excess of 140 pounds per acre compared to that of Georgia Green at 115 pound per acre at a six seed per foot seeding rate. The good news is seed size has decreased in many of the newer cultivars allowing growers a chance to trim some of their input costs. With more high-yielding cultivars available now with varying ranges in maturity, growers can extend their harvest season, potentially reducing harvest losses. Georgia Greener, Georgia-06G and Tifguard have what we call the “normal” or medium-maturity range of approximately 135-140 days after planting. Georgia-12Y, Florida-07 and TUFRunnerTM ‘727’, and TUFRunnerTM ‘511’ all mature about seven to 14 days later than Georgia-06G.

Knowing and understanding the yield potential, disease resistance, seed size and maturity range of a peanut cultivar is the basis for producing a high-yielding and good quality peanut crop.

However, selection of the most optimum cultivar is only part of the equation. Growers also need to get started on the right foot: soil sample every field you have. Knowing the condition of the field (ie. fertility and pH) will also set the stage for high-yielding peanuts. Growers should answer the following question, “What disease problems have I experienced in this field in the past?” Remembering the disease spectrum will allow for pairing the field to the right cultivar based on its disease resistance characteristics. Georgia-12Y, for instance, has superior southern stem rot (white mold) resistance compared to Georgia-06G, but is more susceptible to Rhizoctonia limb rot than Georgia-06G. Know your risk no matter what cultivar you select. Another factor to consider in determining cultivar selection is whether a field is irrigated or non-irrigated. Many of the cultivars available can be considered high yielding under irrigation but do not perform very well in drought conditions.

One final comment to growers as they start to plan for the 2015 growing season, please remember to maintain adequate peanut rotation for your farming operation. A reduction in the number of years between peanut can and will cause problems in the years to come, if not in 2015.

Soil Sample To Justify Inputs

by Kris Balkom, Auburn University
Agri-Program Associate

Looking at total peanut production for Alabama last year shows that we had one of the tougher years that we have experienced in quite some time, which led to an average yield of 3,200 pounds per acre. Along with lower yields, Alabama endured several quality issues. There was an increase in the number of tons of Segregation 2 and 3 peanuts due to dry weather, lesser corn stalk borers and worms.

Now growers are faced with more challenges and difficult decisions due to lower commodity prices and the implementation of the new Farm Bill. Each decision is critical because we must produce high yields to offset lower prices and keep input cost low.

The best money that a grower can spend is on soil sampling. Soil sampling informs the grower of the amount of nutrients in the soil for the crop and exactly what he needs to spend to fulfill that crop’s needs regarding fertility requirements to make a justifiable yield.

A sound management plan for this year will require good soil sampling and reliance on sound soil test calibration and analysis to ensure that every dollar spent on fertility is justified. Challenging years require tighter management.