Record yields and an increase in ending stocks will force us to tighten our belt in 2009. Maintain high yields, while limiting inputs, through crop rotation. Proper crop rotation will minimize disease pressure, and 2009 would be an excellent time to develop a proper rotation sequence. While it will not eliminate disease problems, it will help in managing them.
Another thing is to make sure you have a good supply of good quality irrigation water. If you have not tested your wells for water quality, now would be a good time to do so. Water quality and quantity could hamper yields and reduce profitability. Consider placing peanuts on your strongest water ground, or reduce the acres to the well capacity that will support high yields. Remember, high yields will be the key to any potential profit in peanut production next year.
Recently, I was in a meeting with several new growers, and, for almost every pest issue I brought up, most of the growers indicated they didn't have it as a problem. Several times I said, "Let's move on because I don't want to create a problem for you, and I don't want to cause you to be stressed when you do not need too."
One trend in peanut research and Extension is to encourage the use of risk indices and to incorporate more knowledge and scouting into their decisions. Two important diseases, CBR and tomato spotted wilt, have to be managed before and at planting, with no alternatives once the seed is in the ground. Equally important is weed control; some fields desperately need effective pre-plant incorporated and pre-emergence herbicides to be successful. These situations need to be thought out well ahead of planting to minimize their effect. This is where knowledge becomes our best companion.
Contract prices are a major concern. In 2008, Alabama set a record yield at 3,300 pounds per acre, surpassing the old record of 2,960 pounds per acre set in 1984. The U.S. made a bumper crop as well. This huge crop nearly doubled the normal carryout to nearly 950,000 tons, according to Marshall Lamb from the National Peanut Lab in Dawson, Ga. The depressed demand leaves producers with a tough decision on what to plant in 2009. We have to cut peanut acres and decrease the carryout to get back to a higher market price. If not, we could remain at lower prices for an extended time. Cutting acres would maintain a good rotation, allowing us a to reach more of the maximum potential for a variety, as was experienced this past year with the help of adequate rainfall and lower temperatures.