Runners and Virginias for More Peanuts

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Shift to Runner Types for more acres of peanuts or stick with Virginia Types for more acres?

There have been some good questions about the role of runners in our production systems given the big supply of Virginia market types going into the 2015 season. Historically there has been a substantial difference between runner market type and Virginia market type costs of production. At one point that approached $50/acre. The margin is much closer now given Bailey is a relatively small-seeded Virginia type and the runners promoted and contracted by Birdsong are jumbo runners. Both market type need calcium, and even though we suggest ½ the rate used on Virginia types (see page 23, table 3-9 in 2015 Peanut Information) , the reality is that if you are growing both market types you will probably apply the full rate to both, so this potential savings goes away. The other potential saving is seed cost. But this is marginal. To obtain 5 seeds/liner foot of row takes 120 pounds/acre for Bailey. There are certainly some people with higher seeding rates but if you can get 4 plants (by planting 5 with 80% germination) you should be fine and this will optimize yield from a seeding rate point-of-view. For runners like Georgia 09B and Florida 07, both high oleic, the seeding rate for 5 seeds per foot is 110 pounds/acre. So let’s say growers plant 130 pounds (Bailey) and 110 pounds (Florida 07). There is a saving of 20 pounds/acre but that is only about $20/acre and possibly a little less. I honestly think this is quite low in an overall budget of $900/acre budget. The real driver is price and yield for the two market types.

Yield is a function of a lot of things. On pages 105-106, Figure 1 in 2015 Peanut Information Barbara presents excellent information on disease reaction. If growing Florida 07, the only disease of concern is Sclerotinia blight. I don’t have data on Georgia 09B but my impression is that it too is more susceptible than Bailey. While I don’t think we will have another year like 2014 in terms of Sclerotinia blight like 2015, I am very often wrong. Good weather for peanuts in terms of rainfall also increases the likelihood of having disease like Sclerotinia blight. In terms of yield, I am showing data from 3 sources that include South Carolina (Clemson), North Carolina (Dr. Isleib’s UPPT results), and Virginia (Dr. Balota’s results). All of these sources are excellent. I don’t have all of the information on digging dates, but I suspect in many of these trials there was a single digging date and that can influence yield as you very well know. Peanut in some of the trials may have been dug based on pod mesocarp color for each variety while others may have been dug to catch a “happy medium” for the trial. The only reason why I mention this is because the runners mature later than Virginia types (in some but not all instances) and this would short change the runner’s chances. As a rule, if diseases are controlled and peanut are dug on time, the runners and Virginia types yield about the same. The challenge may be in the northeast where the season gets “cramped.” So there may be differences from an inherent standpoint, but that has proven a bit unpredictable. The question is price. And right of the bat, I know growers need to plant peanut as the generic base to get the possible $100/ton (hopefully) value from whatever price you receive up to the reference price of $535/ton. How do you maximize that “opportunity” by adding the $100 to a higher market price by planting runners vs. Virginias? I am under the impression that growers can sign a contract for runners around $400/ton with a possible increase up to $475/ton as the spring progresses. One question is (if I am intent on growing more peanuts above what is contracted for Virginia types, which I know is only a fraction of the 2015 amount and price) should I grow Virginia types at $355 and take a chance on higher yields than what I might get with runners OR plant runners at a $400/ton price with a slightly lower production cost (other than for Sclerotinia blight control if we have a year like 2014, especially in the northeastern part of the V-C region) with questions about consistency of yield with runners?

One question is if the runner price goes up will the Virginia price go up? They often do travel together. Should I be recommending planting more Virginia types with a gamble on getting more than the loan? Not sure what Bob and Dell would say to me about the impact on future prices for Virginia types. Would this price crunch make it a good idea to back off peanuts for 2015 (I know the generic base makes them attractive) and gain a little more space in the rotations (this will also pay off down the road in many fields.)

So, I have done what I often do. Walk through the question just like you and then answer the original question (should I grow extra Bailey or runners?) with a group of questions…

North Carolina South Carolina Virginia
Variety Many Years 2010-2014 2011-2012
Bailey 4621 5144 5802
Florida 07 4975 4865 5379
Georgia 09B 4243 5064 5135

Article first appeared as North Carolina Peanut Note (PNNC-2015-008)