Peanut Pointers

Soil Test A Must
“How many peanuts will growers plant in 2018?” This is a question being discussed at peanut production meetings all over the state. Prior to the passing of the budget agreement allowing cotton to be eligible for the Price Loss Coverage and get cotton back into the new Farm Bill, growers were indicating they would plant similar acres to 2017. This is likely to change as growers learn the details of the agreement and how it will impact peanut acres in regard to the elimination of generic acres. Growers need to pay close attention to the details as they are rolled out over the next month or so.
Even though this is new legislation, growers need to consider a few things to ensure they start the season on the right foot. The number one thing growers need to do is take soil samples, especially in fields planted in a short rotation. A soil sample is the key to correcting fertility or pH issues. Some fertility issues cannot be easily corrected once you plant.

Growers also need to understand their risk of disease before the first seed is planted. The easiest way to receive the latest information, like the Peanut Rx, is to attend Extension production meetings in your county or call your local county Extension office. Peanut Rx is a great resource for determining overall risk for diseases based on your cultural practices. Taking time to assess your potential risk now can save you time and money.

Another reason for assessing your risk now is the likelihood of fungicide shortages this year. Because of manufacturing problems in China, fungicide shortages will be likely for the 2018 growing season. Chlorothalonil (Bravo/generics) is one of the main products affected. The good news is we have several options to offset the shortage of chlorothalonil in peanut. Contact your county Extension agent to discuss the fungicide options available.

Resistance-Management Strategies
Many farmers will have made arrangements with shellers for the 2018 crop and will have a contract in place. With a contract in hand and decisions on fields for peanut plantings, the question is how can yield and more importantly net return be optimized? How do we get where we want to be at the end of the season? A wise deer hunter once said, “The secret to getting the big one is to get there one hour before he does.”
Being in the right place requires a lot of planning and effort. If one considers “the big one” as a peanut crop that generates optimum net returns, careful planning, hard work and ability to adjust quickly are critical.

One of our major concerns at the present time for peanut, and other crops too, is evolved resistance to pesticides in insect, pathogen and weed populations. We have several important pesticides across each of these pest disciplines that are suspect when it comes to presence of resistance. We need all of the tools in our tool box to control pests in peanut and protect yields.

The key to managing resistant populations already in place or to decrease the likelihood that pest populations will develop resistance is to reduce selection pressure. One way to do this is to use mixtures or sequential applications of pesticides with different modes of action.

Do we have non-chemical strategies for insects, pathogens and weeds? Yes we do. But incorporating alternative practices into production systems can be a challenge due to expense, logistics and predictability. Control practices other than pesticides can help reduce populations, and while pesticides will still be needed, alternative approaches can eliminate some individuals in the population that may be resistant to pesticides. Pesticides almost always deliver a positive return on the investment – but we need to do other things to help them remain effective.

Our challenge going forward is to make sure we consider pesticides as resources, and these resources are vital for profitable peanut production. This requires developing effective strategies that include a solid resistance-management strategy. Like the pursuit of the big one, planning and working hard are essential to protect resources, including pesticides. This will ultimately help us optimize net returns with peanut.

Plant To Irrigation Capacity
With dry conditions persisting across much of the Southwest, now is the time to match up realistic yield goals with irrigation capacity and water quality. The total seasonal water requirement for maximum peanut yield is greater than other crops. It is better to plant fewer acres and irrigate adequately, than to plant larger acres that will be subject to limited water.

Placement of earlier-maturing cultivars may provide some help in spreading irrigation water out over the season. Spanish and Valencia type peanuts are generally earlier maturing than Virginia and runner types. In addition, splitting fields with crops that require less irrigation, such as cotton or sorghum are also advisable.

Close attention should be paid to the output of irrigation systems, especially as the crop transitions from vegetative to reproductive growth and the demand for water increases.

Water quality is important when it comes to growing peanuts. Salinity issues can compound things as salts compete with plants for water. Peanut plants are fairly sensitive to salt damage, which often occurs under dry, arid conditions. Contact your Extension office for additional information regarding irrigation capacity and water quality requirements for peanut production.

Spend Early For Protection
A hefty crop of peanuts last year has the farmer currently trying to decide over a contract offer of $400 for the first ton. It’s a tough decision this early in the year with so many other variables that could affect acres and in turn price. Generic base is one of those variables and is gone for the 2018 cropping season. I wanted to mention this because it seems as if so many producers are unaware of this change. Generic base off the table will cause you to rethink your cropping mixture and could have a huge impact on your bottom line.

We have seen the last few years how much peanut acreage has increased over previous years. Increased acres coupled with high yields have oversupplied our market. So with some generic base going back to cotton, this will more than likely reduce our peanut acres and help to resolve supply issues.

The shortened rotations over the past few years have caused an increase in disease pressure and in nematode populations. Now is the time to plant on some fresh, well-rotated land. Moving to fresh land or better rotated land and planting early according to the weather will help you in avoiding the nematode pressure. Because of the lower prices, you will need to try and avoid the high costs of nematicides through the cultural practices and not give up any yield. However, don’t think that you can skip out on certain expenses.

Last year, we had a lot of heavy disease pressure late in the year due to the warm and wet conditions. I see so many producers who try to get by at the end of season and harvest the crop before disease and weather harvests it for you. Sometimes the weather doesn’t allow you to do what you want. Therefore, it is important to stay in the front of disease and spend some money early toward much needed protection because playing catch up is hard to do.