Comments About Apogee and Precision Digging
Just a few comments about Apogee. If you notice in the Peanut Information guide we show an increase in peanut yield by 104 pounds per acre when Apogee is applied (averaged over 103 trials.) There is certainly variation. In a trial this past summer we saw no increase in yield when applied to single rows and a 490 pound per acre increase when planted in twin rows. The meager increase in yield when averaged over the 103 trials is the result of a number of things (I am not an Apogee salesman.) First, when we set up a trial we are going to put in the trial no matter what the conditions are like. So although we keep a running total of peanut response to Apogee (see above) many of those trials are not really conducive to the product helping a great deal (and these are small plot trials where being able to track the rows does not play into a yield response because having alleys in the plots and digging a relatively short distance allows the person digging to really concentrate and stay in the right place.) Also, I am sure in some of these trials we are digging on the early side, perhaps a week ahead (we get nervous just like farmers) and I am convinced the yield increases, at least in small plots, comes solely from pushing the envelope on maturity (leaving peanuts in the field until the last minute.) For those folks that really like to get the highest yields and grades, one way to help do this is wait until the very last moment to dig. Apogee helps hold those pods on when they are about to shed. For someone that routinely digs early there is less of a chance the Apogee will be needed to hold on the mature pods. Also, twin rows need to be dug with a little more precision than singles, and this may explain the results above with twins versus singles. Theoretically, the maturity for each plant is compressed in twins (less lateral crop and mostly tap root) and this makes the precision of digging (both on the row and holding on the mature pods) more critical for twins than singles. So, the data we have with Apogee needed to be clarified as described above. And, if someone wants to use Apogee in 2012 they need to order it now. Apple and grass seed production markets use a considerable amount of this product.
Finally, Gary Roberson and I have done work with precision digging (data are in the 2012 Peanut Information.) When averaged over trials, we saw a 300 pound per acre increase with precision digging over manual digging. The folks on the station do a really good job of digging precisely, so I think the comparison is very good and accurate. I also know that growers are picking peanuts during the day and pushing hard at night sometimes to dig (and I am sure there is fatigue.) I have heard different estimates on cost of the system, between 15K (if you have a tractor partially set up) to 28K if starting from scratch. I think the 300 pounds is not a stretch. As we look at Bailey on more and more acres (this variety has a vigorous/bunchy growth habit without a dominant main stem) combined with more peanuts in strip tillage, some help in the precision of digging will decrease losses. Also, even plots treated with Apogee this past year were difficult to follow because of how the storm blew vines around. So, for growers trying to do a lot in a short time, precision digging seems to be a good way to go. And, the guidance system can be used for more than just digging.
Article first appeared as North Carolina Peanut Note (PNNC-2012-006)