Producers’ Top 10 List

Follow this game plan to be timely with production inputs.

This Peanut Producers’ Top 10 List was developed by Jay Chapin, Clemson Extension Peanut Specialist, for South Carolina producers as a summary of a good peanut game plan.

Chapin says, “I emphasize to growers that game plans almost always need some modifications as the season unfolds, but without a plan things don’t get done on time.”

Good advice, indeed. So use this game plan as a guide to get things done on time in 2009.


Field Selection / Rotation
Peanuts require well-drained land and do best on soils with a sandy surface. Avoid fields with recent soybean history as best you can and eliminate soybeans from the rotation in the future. Sustainable peanut production requires a minimum of two years, three years are better, of cotton or corn (no legumes) between peanut crops.

Soil Test
Use the Peanut Fertility Check List to compare soil test values for sufficient levels for all nutrients. Zinc (Zn) can severely stunt or kill peanuts. Raise pH to reduce toxicity risk in high Zn fields. Phosphorus (P) and Postassium (K) seldom need to be added if the previous crop had adequate fertility. Soil Calcium (Ca) levels of 600 pounds per acre and Ca-to-K ratio of three to one or higher are desirable. Small runner varieties do not require gypsum if soil-test Ca is above 600 pounds per acre. Raise soil Ca with lime if pH allows.


Get Them Inoculated
Use only liquid in-furrow inoculants; they have been most consistent and are less likely to stop up the applicator. Inoculants are live bacteria; handle with care to keep them alive. Make sure a steady stream, no pulse pumps, hits dead center in the bottom of the open furrow and gets into moisture. Use five gallons at minimum. Do not use chlorinated water. Do not plant too shallow or less than 1.5 inches. Always plant into moisture; dry soil kills the inoculant and causes erratic emergence, which increases virus problems. Peanuts can be planted up to three inches deep, if necessary, for good moisture.

Reduce Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Risk
Plant varieties tolerant to TSWV to the extent possible. NC VI1, Bailey, Champs and Gregory are Virginia-type varieties with some virus tolerance. Many resistant runner alternatives are available. Avoid planting in April. The first week of May still has increased virus risk, but producers with larger acreage need to get started planting. The optimum planting interval for South Carolina is May 5 through May 25.

Get a consistent, uniformly emerged stand. The target is four plants per foot of row. To do this, plant six seed per foot of row or at least five seed per foot of row on large-seeded Virginia types.

Control thrips with in-furrow Thimet (Phorate) at 4.4 pounds on 38-inch rows or Temik at five pounds. Strip tillage reduces tomato spotted wilt.


Establish And Maintain Weed Control
This is a critical factor in the first 45 days. Valor at two to three ounces is recommended for severe pigweed pressure. Valor must be applied within two days of planting and, preferably, watered in. To reduce Valor injury, do not plant shallower than 1.5 inches. Prowl/Sonolan or Dual can be tankmixed.

The first flush of weeds may need a treatment of Gramoxone (+ Basagran or Storm) before a Cadre application at 30 to 35 DAP. Dual can be applied postemergence with Gramoxone instead of, or in addition to, pre-plant incorporated for extended pigweed control.

Use 2,4-DB, Blazer or Storm where needed for escapes. Use Poast Plus or Select for grass.


Put Out The Calcium
All Virginia type peanuts should get 300 pounds per acre Ca, 1,500 pounds of landplaster, at blooming. Calcium must be available in the pegging zone when the first pods begin to form.

It is better to be early than late with landplaster.

45 DAP

Prevent Foliar And Soilborne Disease
Although peanuts on “new” land should be relatively free of diseases, severe leaf spot and white mold losses can still occur. White mold and Cylindrocladium Black Rot (CBR) are usually worst in fields with a soybean history. Peanuts have to be protected from a complex of both soil and foliar diseases with a preventative program.

Start leaf spot treatment no later than 45 DAP and white mold treatment at 60 DAP. On high-risk leaf spot varieties – Champs, Gregory, Phillips, Perry, Brantley – start leaf spot program at 30 DAP. See the Production Guide for example fungicide programs. White mold treatments are most critical at 75 and 90 DAP.

60 DAP

Irrigation Management
Peanut is an indeterminate, drought-tolerant crop, but irrigation can be critical to maximize returns from calcium, activate herbicides and move fungicides into the soil. Irrigation also reduces insect damage and prevents aflatoxin.

The critical water-use period is during pod fill, approximately 60 to 110 DAP, when peanuts need 1.5 inches per week minus rain. See the Peanut Production Guide for irrigation scheduling or consider using a computer program, such as Irrigator Pro.


Check For Worms
Cutworms occasionally defoliate peanuts in late June or early July. Corn earworms, followed by fall armyworms, feed on peanut primarily from the last week of July through August. Velvetbean caterpillars sometimes strip peanuts in the lower part of the state in late September to October. Fully lapped, unstressed peanuts can tolerate up to eight worms per foot. The threshold is four worms per foot on unlapped or stressed peanuts.

There are some significant soil pests, such as lesser cornstalk borer, wireworm, burrower bug and rootworm, but the greatest threats – borers and burrower bugs – can be managed with irrigation.

130 DAP

Digging Decisions
More money is made or lost with digging decisions than any other aspect of peanut production.

Medium-maturing Virginia types generally reach harvest maturity in about 130 to 135 DAP under typical growing conditions in South Carolina. However, many practical considerations figure into when the first field is dug, including the following: vine health, acreage, equipment availability, when planting began and weather predictions. Runner types are more forgiving and can be allowed to stay in the ground longer, sometimes more than 150 days.

Start spot checking maturity at about 120 DAP. Use the pod blast or hull scrape method to sort pods into color piles and determine which fields should be dug first.

Some pod color guidelines for Virginia type maturity are as follows: 70 percent of pods in orange + brown + black categories and 20 to 30 percent in brown + black. For runners, the guideline is 75 percent in orange + brown + black and 30 to 40 percent in brown + black. The grade target is at least 70 percent Total Sound Mature Kernel (TSMK).

Practical considerations sometimes prevent waiting on full maturity in every field, particularly for the first field to be dug. If you are digging before 130 DAP, use pod color to make sure you’re not too early; if you are waiting after 140 DAP, make sure you’re not too late.

As for digging, it is easy to ruin a great crop with the digger. Staying on the row with the digger is a must. Matching the digger ground speed to shaker speed, digger running depth and soil conditions are also critical.