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Peanut Pointers

JASON WOODWARD
Texas Agri-Life Extension
Plant Pathologist

Final planted area for the Southwest in 2013 was approximately 136,000 acres, down about 40,000 acres from the previous year. This region is unique in that all four market types – runner, Spanish, Valencia and Virginia – are grown. Historically, runners have been the predominant market type grown in Texas, but it comprised only 27 percent of the acreage in 2013.

The production of runners was concentrated in south Texas. In the High Plains, there was an increase in Virginia-type peanuts, which accounted for 35 percent of the state’s acres, followed by Spanish at 25 percent and Valencia at 13 percent. The crop appeared to be in excellent condition going into the latter part of the growing season; however, the hot and dry conditions experienced in August undoubtedly affected pod fill. Despite these challenges, yields were at or slightly above the sixyear yield average of 3,500 pounds per acre.

Precipitation that has fallen across the region over the past few months is greatly welcome. Stored moisture occurring during the winter will promote more favorable planting conditions for this growing season than have been experienced the last several years.


DAVID JORDAN
North Carolina State University
Extension Agronomist

This is the time of year when growers get a bit nervous about contracts and how peanut prices will stack up against the value of other crops. Taking a close look at realistic yield potential, cost of production and expected return on investment will enable folks to make a good decision on growing peanuts or selecting a different crop that offers the same or more income with less risk.

A big question is how well do the other crops stack up to peanut under dryland conditions. Peanuts have risks and are expensive to grow, but they are resilient. I am almost always pleasantly surprised at the end of the season at how much peanuts yield compared with my in-season expectations. I’m not sure if that means I’m generally pessimistic about things and deep down like a positive surprise or that peanuts are just that good at handling a wide range of stresses throughout the year and bounce back from them very well. I suspect there is truth in both of these statements.

However, we do know that peanuts can’t do it by themselves. In recent years, we have experienced high yields under great conditions (2012) and marginal conditions (2013). Our yields these days reflect longer rotations, improved varieties, availability of crop protection materials and effective strategies to manage virtually all pests, production on good peanut soils that minimizes digging losses and, most of all, good managers that can put it all together.

These factors, combined with the natural resiliency in the field, will keep peanuts in the game as a viable crop option.


GLENDON HARRIS, JR.
University of Georgia
Extension Agronomist

Soil testing is one of the keys to good site selection when planning which fields to plant to peanut this year. Look for good pH, phosphorous and potassium levels and watch out for fields with high zinc levels.

Abundant rain last year has a lot of growers concerned that soil test levels have dropped. The biggest concerns should be pH and potassium. Lime should be applied two or three months ahead of planting, if possible, and, if soil test levels of potassium are low enough, potassium fertilizer will be recommended.

Calcium needs should not be based on a fall-timed soil sample, but instead it should be based on a pegging zone soil sample at three to four inches deep soon after the peanut crop emerges.


KRIS BALKCOM
Auburn University
Agri-Program Associate

Who knows what to expect in 2014? We experienced record-breaking yields in 2012, followed by monsoon rains in 2013, while at the same time still setting a respectable state yield of around 3,500 pounds per acre.

Some areas of Alabama received more than 100 inches of rain resulting in flooding of low-lying areas and yield reductions in the flat, heavier soils that stayed saturated. Conversely, the high sandy ridges of the state experienced above-average yields.

The excessive rains presented difficulties managing the crop and also significantly increased problems with nematodes. The excessive moisture forced nematodes to rise closer to the surface because of the lack of oxygen in the soil moving them more into the roots.

As we plan for the 2014 crop, we must stay mindful of our rotations, lack of nematicides and the estimated 900,000-ton carryout from the 2013 crop.

PG

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