Peanut Grower Magazine Column February 2016

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Peanut Grower Magazine, February 2016 Issue
David Jordan

Prior to 2015, peanut yields in the V-C region had been breaking new records almost every year over the past few years. In addition to excellent farmers, key factors influencing peanut yield were in place including high-yielding varieties with good disease resistance, a high percentage of peanut planted on suitable land to reduce digging losses, long rotations, and availability of effective crop protection materials. The wild card seems to be weather and this year demonstrated that point. Our yields will be off about 1,000 pounds per acre (25%) across the V-C region. Weather came in two extremes, especially in the lower V-C, and included a dry summer and a wet and warm fall. About 25% of the crop was negatively affected after digging but before combining. This does not happen often and we mostly worry about peanuts staying in the field too long before digging. In 2015 the window for digging and combining was very narrow all the way through November. Dry and sunny days were hard to come by. With that said, one of the most critical aspects of production is timeliness, and this applies to every practice. Perhaps the most critical of these is harvest. Many years ago I asked one of my uncles (3 of whom grew peanuts at the time) how does one get started as a farmer? I was thinking he would list all of the tractors and tillage implements but both my aunt and uncle were focused on harvesting equipment. The take home message was if you have your own harvesting equipment you can be timelier, and your investment in the crop for the entire season is less likely to be lost at the very end. The analogy with peanuts now is harvest capacity. Most peanut growers have their own equipment. The question is whether or not what they have is adequate if there are any hiccups in the fall such as major breakdowns or bad weather. While there might not be any money to invest from the 2015 cropping season after bills are paid, in the future investing in harvesting equipment and people to help run it might pay the biggest dividend. It’s a long way to harvest with a lot to do between now and then. But setting everything up for harvest and being able to do that in a timely manner is critical – there is much to do in the fall and a short period of time to do it.

Article first appeared as North Carolina Peanut Note (PNNC-2016-005)