Establishing Stands in Dry Soil Peanut Notes No. 53 2019
Soil moisture is limited across many areas of North Carolina. This is especially the case for farmers who were wet in April/early May and had to do a significant amount of primary and secondary tillage to get fields in shape. Once all of this tillage was completed fields dried to the point that moisture is very limited.
Hot, dry and windy conditions dried many of the soils out. If moisture is not adequate to ensure germination it is better not to plant. If beds can be knocked off to moisture and peanuts planted to the moisture one should be able to get a stand. It is hard to say how much moisture is needed. Bailey will require less than Sullivan or Wynne. Runners will require even less than Bailey, but it is important to get enough to complete the germination process. Peanut can be planted 3 inches deep, down to moisture, and emerge. Beds can be knocked off to almost flat ground to get to more moisture and be okay as well. Digging might be more difficult but getting to moisture is critical now.
Another option is to prepare beds and knock off tops of the beds while they are too dry to plant so that if one gets even a relatively small amount of rain peanuts can be planted shallow in moisture (with no additional tillage.) How much is a small amount? I really don’t know. All fields are different. The drawback here is that the surface of soil will dry quickly, and the shallower we plant the more risk we take with inoculant for biological nitrogen fixation being “cooked” in hot soils (in June.) We still have about 2 weeks to plant and most likely not take a yield hit. More on that in another Peanut Note.