The Southeast crop will be harvested late because of delayed planting. Planting is typically delayed because of dry weather, and irrigated acreage is planted more or less on time. However, the delay in mid-to-late May this year was wet weather. In that case, all acreage is delayed. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of the Southeast crop was planted in June. This will push harvest into late October and early November. Growers need to monitor temperatures in mid-to-late October closely.
In 2006 and 2008, the minimum temperature reached the lower 40s and upper 30s by the third week of October. The upper 40s and lower 50s are typical in late October and November. If we have normal minimum temperatures in late October, mid-maturing cultivars planted by June 10 should reach optimal maturity. Do not dig and invert fields the day before a frost or freezing temperatures are predicted.
The old adage that the best thing you can apply to your field is your shadow holds true. Even with technological advances, nothing can replace a good scouting program. Timeliness of crop inputs is still the key to high yields. Remember, fungicides work best from a protective rather than curative stance. Weeds are much easier to control when small and earlier in the season when weather is often more conducive to herbicide activity. It is hard to catch up with irrigation once the crop has suffered from a moisture stand point. “Better late than never” does not hold true in peanut production. If we are late with crop inputs, we have already suffered a yield loss that cannot be recovered. The yield goal is lowered, and we are just trying to maintain yields at this reduced level for the remainder of the season.
In the latter half of the season, it will be important to protect peanut vines, root systems and pods from disease and other stresses to set up the greatest amount of flexibility at harvest. The better shape plants are in gives greater flexibility to be precise in digging. There is often a dilemma in determining when peanuts need digging when disease and pod maturity are considered. Healthy vines make this decision easier. Controlling late-season weed escapes will also help in making digging efficient and pod loss minimized. Grasses are a particular concern, and a mid-to-late season application of Select or Poast will help. For broadleaf weeds, mowing just before digging to minimize vegetation going through the digger and into the combine will often keep one’s use of “inappropriate language” to a minimum. Peanuts are very surprising. Staying the course, even when the crop doesn’t look particularly good, is important.
We are behind with the 2009 crop because of wet weather, which is better than the dry springs we have endured. Even though the majority of the crop is late, we have ample time to produce a bumper crop. Usually, we don’t experience a killing frost until late October. All of the normal practices still apply to this crop – everything is just a few weeks later. One difference is we usually don’t see as much white mold with later-planted peanuts as we experience with peanuts planted in late April through mid-May. However, you should have a good fungicide program for these peanuts because they will be in the ground later and will have to possibly weather tropical storms later in the season. Therefore, the leaves and vines need to be in good condition to make it to optimal harvest.