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Weather Does Number On 2010 Crop
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Weather Does Number On 2010 Crop

Growers wrestle with problems relating to hot, dry conditions.

By Amanda Huber print email

 
Perhaps producers were due a year with high temperatures and little rainfall, but even knowing it was likely to come along wasn’t enough to anticipate the severity of related problems. Spider mites spun their webbing across Virginia acres, and in the Southeast, some fields will likely be abandoned. The one bright spot may have been the Southwest, where yields are expected to be a little above average.

The Southeast’s Situation
“Drought has greatly reduced yield, particularly dryland peanuts throughout most of the Wiregrass region and to a much lesser extent in southwest Alabama,” says Austin Hagan, Alabama Cooperative Extension plant pathologist. “When soil moisture levels were adequate, there was a good deal of white mold activity across Alabama, particularly in southwest Alabama where the disease previously had not been an issue in peanuts.”

Hagan says because of the dry weather, leaf spot pressure was light-to-moderate in most areas.

Jason Ferrell, University of Florida Extension weed specialist, says dryland fields were way off this year, both in yield and grade, because of extreme heat and dry weather.

“Many dry fields are making around 2,000 pounds per acre, and a few fields will likely not be dug at all. Irrigated fields are doing much better, but still not up to standards set in previous years,” he says.

Although 2010 was an especially light year for tomato spotted wilt virus, it was a particularly difficult year for white mold, says Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia Extension plant pathologist.

“Hot temperatures and sporadic rain events sparked and fueled a severe outbreak of white mold.”

 
Peanuts Eyed As Possible
Crop In Arkansas
 

By Mary Hightower, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

This month, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture specialists and growers in two counties are seeing the first fruits of their labor as they explore the potential for peanuts as a profitable crop in Arkansas.

Scott Monfort, an Extension plant pathologist for the division, says peanuts in Arkansas look good for three reasons: A shortage of water in peanut-growing areas of the Texas High Plains, fewer peanut acres in Oklahoma due to the end of a government incentive program and disease, and the presence of enthusiastic buyers: Texoma Peanut’s Clint Williams Co., of Oklahoma, and Birdsong Peanuts, based in Virginia.

Currently, there are about 1,000 acres of peanuts grown in Arkansas, a tiny percentage when compared with cotton, soybeans and rice that covered nearly 5.5 million acres of the state last year.

“We have about 12 acres of research plots at Newport and Bald Knob, looking at varieties and disease management,” Monfort says.

Larry Wilson, of the Clint Williams Co., has been making frequent visits from his Oklahoma base to the Arkansas growers all through the season.

“The crop looks really well,” he says. “I feel like they’ll have good yields.”

Monfort, a plant disease specialist, was recruited to work on the peanut project. “Being from Georgia, I worked with peanuts quite a bit.”

Ollie Hall, project coordinator for Texoma, says there is growing interest in Arkansas for growing peanuts and the company is “currently trying to quantify that interest and potential in order to make decisions on where we need to locate facilities to handle and store the crop.”

In addition to the growers in Jackson and Randolph counties, Hall says there has been significant interest in Craighead and Mississippi Counties.

“We are also very interested in areas in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana,” he says.

Randolph County Extension staff chair, Mike Andrews, says that peanuts were paying handsomely compared to soybeans, about $400 a ton, with the potential for growers to get two to two-and-a-half tons an acre.

“If the price holds up, this could give some of the growers an option other than soybeans,” he says, adding, “I don’t know any farmer who wants to farm to break-even, but they want to be profitable, and peanuts may be a crop to help the bottom line.” PG

   

Problems In Upper V-C
2010 was a very dry peanut cropping season for southeastern Virginia.

Early spring brought plenty of rain in the southeastern Virginia area, but by mid-May, irrigation was almost needed for emergence, says Maria Balota, associate professor at Virginia Tech.

“At flowering and throughout the growing season, it continued to be dry and hot. Peanuts stopped growing and, in most of the fields, veins did not meet in the middle of the rows. Maturity was delayed two weeks or so, depending on the location.

“Spider mites and worms were very severe also due to dryness of the weather,” she says.

Like most of the other states, North Carolina was hot and dry for much of the growing season and weather-related problems ensued.

“Growers really struggled with spider mite control. I also got a lot of calls in August and early September about stem rot (white mold) outbreaks,” says Barbara Shew, Extension plant pathologist with North Carolina State University. “It was a light year for leaf spot and a very light year for Sclerotinia and CBR.”

Very heavy rain in early October put digging behind, and the estimated state-wide yield is 2,800 pounds per acre, down from last year and from estimates made in early September, Shew says.

South Carolina Fares Better
Jay Chapin, Clemson University Extension peanut specialist, says that up until the last week of August, South Carolina peanut growers were blessed with more consistent rain than most of the Southeast.

“Then the spout turned off with no rain for essentially a month until September 26. High temperatures and the late-season drought took more of a toll on yield and quality of later-planted peanuts.”

However, Chapin says that a record year for temperatures, above 90 degrees F for more than 119 days, combined with consistent early to mid-season rain resulted in high white mold and late leaf spot pressure.

“As usual, resistant pigweed control was the most consistent pest issue. Corn earworm pressure was above normal, but a minor issue relative to weed and disease control,” he says.
Despite all of the pest issues, Chapin says many areas made a very good to excellent peanut crop that could exceed the October estimate of 3,200 pounds per acre.

Southwest Crop Early
Naveen Puppala, peanut breeder for New Mexico State University, says the crop in his state will result in just an average year.

“We see sporadic pod rot symptoms and seedling sprouting from Valencias, which do not have a dormancy period, suggesting that erratic temperatures during the growing season had resulted in early maturity of the crop.”

Puppala says most growers were digging at 130 days.

In Oklahoma, Chad Godsey, Oklahoma State University cropping systems specialist, says Oklahoma’s crop was 10 to 14 days ahead of normal and that much of the Spanish and Virginia types had already been harvested.

“Yields are going to be slightly above average. Harvest weather has been excellent,” he says. “The only real problem we had all season was pod rot. Pod rot has been bad in the Virginia varieties.”

Putting numbers to some of the problems of this year’s crop, the National Agricultural Statistics Service released peanut conditions for the week ending Oct. 10, 2010, and the crop was rated as follows: six percent very poor; 17 percent poor; 32 percent fair; 36 percent good and nine percent excellent.

In the previous year at the same time, there were no peanuts considered very poor, three percent was poor, 27 percent was fair, 59 percent was considered good, while 11 percent rated as excellent. PG

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