Planting Delay

Cold weather a likely factor at harvest.

By Amanda Huber

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day – most producers across the peanut belt could have sung this little nursery rhyme at planting this season. But for a few weeks in May, the rain kept producers out of the field and created a new set of circumstances for some.

Timeliness As Critical As Always
Chad Godsey, Oklahoma State University associate professor and Extension agronomist, says peanut planting in Oklahoma was delayed by wet weather seven to 10 days later than normal.

“Even without the rain, soil temperatures were below 60 degrees F until mid-May, which is not normal,” he says. “Most producers got their acres planted between May 15 and 25. A few Spanish were planted later.”

John Damicone, OSU Extension pathologist, says Oklahoma producers planted more Spanish acres this year, which could be planted into early June.

“Growers planting Spanish peanuts should be sure to pay close attention to leaf spot control because Spanish varieties are more susceptible than runners,” he says. “It is important to make timely fungicide sprays to get ahead of foliar diseases on all types of peanuts, but it is especially important with Spanish peanuts.”

Freeze Damage Q and A

Q: What factors contribute to freeze damage?
A: Factors that interact and contribute to potential freeze damage are kernel moisture content, actual air temperature, the exposure time and the subsequent warming during the day.

Recently dug peanuts have a high moisture content. If peanuts, turned up in the wind-row, are exposed to cold nighttime temperatures and warmer temperatures during the day, potential kernel damage can occur.

Q: What is the actual damage?
A: When exposed to the cold temperatures, respiration in the seed changes from an aerobic (with oxygen) to an anaerobic (without oxygen) process. When this happens, increased concentrations of compounds such as ethanol and acetaldehyde are found. This results in the development of an off-flavor described as fruity fermented.

Smaller kernels are much more susceptible to injury than medium or jumbo size kernels.

Q: What can be done to prevent freeze damage?
A: The soil provides insulation for the underground peanuts from air temperatures that are three to five degrees below freezing, so peanuts that have not been dug are safer from light freezes or frost than ones that have been dug. However, once vines start to deteriorate, so do peg attachments.

Source: Cooperative Extension Service

Acreage Further Reduced
Some areas of Texas are thought to be considerably down in acreage, but other areas have a good-looking crop already.

Todd Baughman, state peanut specialist located at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Vernon, says, “Most of the West Texas crop has been in the ground for a month, but it has been very dry out there. North Texas has been delayed from planting due to heavy rain in some areas.”

In mid-June, Baughman says they were still planting in South Texas.

Calvin Trostle, Extension agronomist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Lubbock, says all the peanuts he has seen thus far are in good condition.

“Gaines County, which is our highest acreage county, has received good rains. Many stands there are five weeks old.”

Trostle says his colleague, Jason Woodward, commented that many Extension test plots, most of which are in farmers’ fields, look the best they ever have.

“However, it is not clear how much our acreage been reduced in the Texas High Plains,” he says.

“Estimates have ranged from a 20 percent to 40 percent reduction, but we won’t know for sure until official numbers are released.”

Frost A Real Concern
Mike Howell, Mississippi State University area agronomist, says a significant percentage of acres in Mississippi were planted in June.

“The northeast portion of the state was extremely wet during the entire month of May, and only very limited acres were planted before May 31,” he says. “I am nervous about the crop there, given that the usual first frost is about the first week of November. That is going to cut it real close, and there will be a lot of peanuts to harvest at one time.

“The south end of the state is in much better shape. About 50 percent of the crop was planted before May 20, and the remainder was planted between May 25 and June 2.”

Because of the late planting, Kris Balkcom, Auburn University agri-program associate, says a large portion of the crop will most likely be in the ground until late October and on into November.

“Growers will have to pay attention to the weather and avoid freeze damage during that time of year, if we have the temperatures for that potential,” he says.

You Pegged It
Jay Chapin, Clemson University Extension peanut specialist, says South Carolina was also extremely wet in May, and there was a good bit of late planting, plus some fields did not get planted at all.

“We have enough season in the southern coastal plain area to make peanuts planted out to June 10, and sometimes even later, but the risk increases with any June planting because there is usually only one opportunity to fill pods on rain-fed fields and harvest risks increase,” he says. “Shorter, cooler days mean less drying time once we hit November.”

Chapin says a late-season storm could shut them out. “Peg strength on mature Virginia-market types do not hold up long in wet soils.”

Maria Balota, assistant professor of crop physiology at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Research Center in Suffolk, says this year is going to be difficult in Virginia, as well, because of the later-planted peanuts.

Maturity: Sped Up Or Further Delayed
Balota says two factors – temperature and precipitation – can either further delay the crop, through cool temperatures and rain, or speed up maturity with hot, dry weather.

“Last year, some growers waited too long and got a freeze. They may run into frost again if they wait too long.”

Even with the rain, Balota says, they managed to plant their Peanut Variety and Quality Evaluation tests in three planting dates: April 20, May 1 and May 15. Peanuts planted in April are at 100 percent flowering already, but they have not seen more thrips damage on the earlier-planted peanuts in comparison to the later-planted ones.

Rest-Of-The-Season Reminders:

• Be timely with inputs, especially fungicides
• Know that conditions can speed up or further
delay maturity
• Control disease and dig before pegs deteriorate
• Do not dig peanuts if a frost or freeze is expected

In Florida, David Wright, University of Florida Extension agronomist, says the thrips-vectored tomato spotted wilt virus and the subsequent use of the Peanut Rx risk index has meant the planting window is shorter.

“Growers try to get all peanuts planted in Florida between May 10 and May 20,” he says. “But, rain delayed planting, and there were some fields that had a full flush of weeds that had to be dealt with before planting.”

PG