I suspect there will be questions about planting dates and just how late can peanuts be planted with no adverse influence on yield. Table 3-12 in 2012 Peanut Information (page 37) goes into this some, although that table is very confusing if you read it closely. I will do better in the 2013 version. But, peanuts planted in early May vs. late May essentially yield the same if they are taken care of and dug based on optimum maturity (3,869 vs. 3,836 pounds/acre, respectively). These data are from three years at Lewiston with the varieties CHAMPS (early maturing) and Perry (late maturing.) While it is hard to parse it out in the table, there was no advantage of planting CHAMPS late compared with Perry. It seems logical that the earlier maturing variety would handle the truncated season better than a later maturing variety, but that was not obvious in the data. And, folks have already placed their orders and have the seed in hand anyway. There is little flexibility in changing varieties in late May, and the data for CHAMPS and Perry in these trials will make someone feel like they have done all they can anyway.
There is a big drop in yield from May 22 to June 8 (3,836 vs. 2,992 pounds/acre.) I wish we had a June 1 planting date in there but we do not. So, with taking the risk of abusing the statistics on a Saturday morning, yields would be 3,414 with a June 1 date (or 11% lower than May 5 or May 22.) Our biggest concern when it comes to the issue of late planting is found in Table 3-29 (page 43) and the text explain the table on page 42. Those heat units in the last few weeks can really make a difference, especially when considering peanuts that were planted late (and, there could be a tiny bit of photoperiod response going on with peanuts too, but heat units are the driver.) Several years ago when we had a wet mid May I was asked when is the last date to plant peanuts. I kept saying, see what happens over the weekend and if you can plant Monday I would go ahead.” The question is how many times after this coming Friday will I give the same answer. Peanut planted June 8 will yield 77% of the May plantings. Yield of peanut planted June 15 will surely go down substantially from there, but I would certainly plant up to June 8. The question is what to do with seed that is already treated with fungicide and cannot go back into the edible trade. If you can get out of that $150 per acre and plant soybeans that is an excellent alternative, especially at $15/bushel. But can you get out of the peanut contract? I can’t imagine you would have anything applied in the field that would keep you from planting soybeans. But if the grower is liable for the peanut seed and the contract, planting peanuts up to June 8 will be the best option. If we continue to get rains that keep us out of the field, check with me on June 8 for my two cents worth on planting peanuts, but don’t let me put off an answer for a few more weekends.
I am reminded that we are a week away from a drought in North Carolina no matter how wet it is. With a chance of dry weather this coming week the discussion above becomes irrelevant for most people, although the decision between cotton and peanut as the priority to plant in late May becomes a challenge given logistics and acreage.
Article first appeared as North Carolina Peanut Note (PNNC-2012-021)