Off To A Good Start

Inoculants are one key to achieving vigorous growth and maximum yield.

BY AMANDA HUBER
Valuable yields are waiting in each peanut seed. The yield potential of each seed is at its maximum when it is put into the ground.

Decisions such as crop rotation and field selection help that seed reach its full potential. However, stresses such as disease pressure, drought and not being timely with inputs lower the bar on what yields can be achieved.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 1.18.54 PMRev Up The Process
One critical component to peanut growth is the inoculation process. Researchers agree that peanuts respond better to the nitrogen fixation provided by Rhizobia bacteria than it does to direct application of nitrogen fertilizer.

Placing a fresh, high quality inoculant in a concentrated area around the seed where it can enter into the root quickly will give that emerging peanut plant the best start. At the earliest opportunity, the beneficial bacteria can enter the roots and begin multiplying, making nitrogen quickly available to the plant. From here, vigorous growth is achieved and canopy closure is attained more rapidly.

Avoid These Pitfalls
A lack of peanut-specific Rhizobia in the soil and in close proximity to the seed means that time is lost while the seedling waits for bacteria to arrive. The lack of nitrogen slows the growth process and allows for problems, such as disease, to attack the sluggish seedling.

An inoculant should be bought fresh each year for maximum viability. Inoculants should be kept completely away from direct sunlight, and are best stored at temperatures from 40 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not freeze the product. Once a package has been opened, use it within 24 hours.

At application, make sure the inoculant is placed in direct contact with the seed for maximum uptake. If water is used as a carrier, chlorine-free water, such as well or rain water, should be used. Refer to the product label for further care and handling instructions and for application rates.

Other conditions that may affect Rhizobia are soil pH, organic matter, drought conditions and plant stress.

Scout For Nodules
Whether or not you applied an inoculant at planting, always scout for nodulation anyway. It is the most efficient way to be assured nitrogen fixation is occurring. If poor nodulation is found, you will know to use an inoculant when next planting a peanut crop to that field. If an inoculant was used, but poor nodulation was found, then you will need to consider what went wrong and avoid making the same mistake twice. In either case, supplemental nitrogen may be needed.

Applying an inoculant and then scouting to make sure the nodulation process is occurring provides assurance that you have given your peanuts the opportunity to achieve maximum yield and quality. PG