South Carolina Yields Success

Putting together a variety of beneficial practices is how these
growers achieve outstanding yields.

By Amanda Huber

 

No magic formula for growing peanuts exists, and there is no single “key” to success. Growing peanuts well takes a combination of practices, tested by time. That, and a really good Extension person, something these South Carolina growers readily appreciate.

The Advantage Of Rotation
Ricky Kneece, along with his dad, Delano Kneece, his son, Kain, and hired hand, Willie, work 1,600 acres of corn, cotton and peanuts in Lexington County, S.C., and he is quick to point out how important his rotation is to their yields.

“We have corn, cotton, corn, then peanuts, and some years get corn, cotton, corn, corn, then peanuts,” Kneece says. “We believe it’s our rotation that gives us the advantage.”

At planting, Kneece, a yield contest winner in 2006, makes sure he will have strong, healthy plants with both pest protection and nitrogen fixation.

“I always use Temik, and I use a liquid inoculant, and on new land I use both the granular and liquid inoculant,” he says.

As for varieties, Kneece says they plant NC-V11, Perry and have planted some Phillips, which he says graded very well. Since they plant Virginia-type varieties on the farm of Delano Kneece and Son, Inc., calcium is essential.

Exploit Less Expensive Inputs
“Jay Chapin has always said to put calcium out in plenty of time, so we believe in getting our calcium out early,” he says, referring to Clemson University’s Extension entomologist. “We shoot for a ton and a quarter.

“It seems like the more calcium we put out, the better our yields are. It’s not that expensive, and because you put it out in one trip, your dollars per acre don’t go up that much.”

For weed control, Kneece says they do not use yellow herbicides because they felt they were having a problem with pegs.

“We use Dual Magnum and come back with Cadre, and we use some Gramoxone. We have used some Poast for spot treatments,” he says.

As for disease problems, Kneece says they treat for leaf spot and white mold, and they have had Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus in the past.

“I give a lot of credit to Jay Chapin. When he tells you what the spray schedule should be, you can believe in it,” Kneece says. “When we get through spraying our peanuts, the peanuts in the half of the crop we will get to last, we go back over them once more with a pint and a half of Bravo.

“It seems to help and the vines stay in better shape until they can get to them to pick,” he says. “We use one of the higher-cost spray programs, and it just seems like it pays for us.”

Pay is right, as Kneece says their overall acreage last year was 6,100 pounds to the acre for all their peanuts. “We had some foundation seed that yielded 7,100 pounds to the acre.”

Better Early Than Late
For Hayne Haigler, timeliness is one of the first attributes that comes to mind in having a successful peanut crop.

“You have to be timely with peanuts more than anything else I’ve dealt with,” says the former yield contest winner in 2003. “We try to do a good job with our weed control program and fungicides to stay on time and not get behind. In fact, we like to stay a day ahead, rather than a day behind.”

Haigler, who farms with his son in Cameron, S.C., plants 400 to 450 acres of peanuts. “With the price being up, we’ll probably up it 50 acres.

“We only grow cotton and peanuts, with cotton two years and then back into peanuts,” he says. “We strip-till all our peanuts, and I have been using Temik under the row at the five-pound rate.

“We put out inoculants every year. They’re not that expensive, so it’s kind of cheap insurance,” Haigler says. “Later on, we may skip a year, but I have seen what happens when a tube stops up, and you can’t afford to put out nitrogen fertilizer.”

He also follows Chapin’s recommendations for a spray program.

“Last year we averaged 4,700 pounds per acre, with one field at 5,520 pounds, and it was a dry year, so I was pleased,” he says. PG