Ask the Experts
Q. Should I Invest in a Twin-Row Planter?
A. David Jordan, North Carolina State University Extension agronomist
In the Southeast, there has been an explosion of interest in planting peanuts in twin rows. This has prompted growers in the Virginia-Carolina area to ask if they should consider making the switch from single rows to twin rows. Would growers in the V-C area reap the same rewards from such a shift as their Southeastern counterparts?
To answer this question, growers in the V-C area must compare their situation to that of growers in the Southeast. The reason for the dramatic increase in twin-row planting in the Southeast centers around Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV). For several years, the virus devastated that part of the peanut belt. Production and/or pest management practices that have been found to reduce damage from TSWV have been immediately successful. Planting in twin rows, a component of the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Index from the University of Georgia, has been very beneficial.
How does this knowledge fit in the V-C area? Should growers invest in twin-row planters, given that the majority of acreage is still planted in single rows?
Around North Carolina, there is a small but productive group of farmers that swear by twin rows. Remember, this is in the absence of spotted wilt. Research by Dr. Sullivan and, more recently, research we have conducted on twin rows often shows a yield increase of several hundred pounds. This happens in many, but not all, situations. It should be noted, there are some increases in variable costs with twin-row seeding.
Why are we not seeing greater benefits here in the V-C area? Probably because we do not have nearly as much virus occurrence, although we did have an increase in the amount of TSWV in the 2000 season. Most likely, we will not see dramatic yield increases in the V-C area unless we see dramatic increases in virus.
Without a yield increase, it would take a long time for an investment in a new twin-row planter to pay for itself, especially if you already have a good single-row planter. If, however, you are in the process of purchasing an additional planter or replacing an existing planter, you might consider investing in a twin-row planter and moving your production in that direction.
It is hard to predict how much TSWV we will have in this region. If we see a steady increase in the virus, there would be a stronger justification to move toward twin-row planting. In the meantime, you should not expect to see the dramatic yield increases from twin rows in the V-C area that folks in the Southeast have experienced.
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