V-C Peanut News Jordan Article Peanut Notes No. 32 2020

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V-C Peanut News Article

April 3, 2020

David Jordan

All of us are practicing a greater degree of risk management than normal in the current time. This is serious business and many of us are vulnerable. I am preparing this column in early April, which means I am toward the end of teaching the Integrated Pest Management class at NC State University. In this class we discuss the PAMS approach to IPM (this is also a part of Chapter 11 in 2020 Peanut Information.)  PAMS is the acronym for Prevention, Avoidance, Monitoring, and Suppression. With all of the students away from NC State University for the time being (and completing the course using remote technology), I am trying to figure out how to give a final exam while students have access to their notes and everything I have provided during the semester, and there is no way to tell what they will use to help on the exam.

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of how important prevention is and how important it is to monitor progression of disease (along with trying to trace it back to the source), and this is also the case with managing pests in crops (including peanuts.)  We are also learning how challenging it can be to avoid a virus if we carry on as usual (we have to adjust, and that adjustment needs to be quick.)  There is no tool for suppression of COVID-19, at least to date based on scientific consensus, which is the complete answer to the problem. This is a difficult place for all of us to be but this is where we find ourselves.

The IPM exam may simply be a question of parallels of COVID-19 with Integrated Pest Management in a couple of crops (including peanuts.)  I may also ask students to put themselves in the shoes of administrators (government/university), frontline practitioners (consultants, scouts, agribusiness employees, agents, and farmers), and even the crop itself. This will require holistic thinking from multiple angles and viewpoints. Putting together a puzzle with the key pieces in the right place and in the correct order is what I will be after. As I think about this exam I am also thinking about the “real-world test” of growing peanuts. There are certainly parallels as we go into the 2020 growing season. As we look back at previous years what should we do differently in 2020. What should we anticipate? Have we done all we can to minimize risks to peanut yield? Are we ready to adjust quickly if we need to? Have we become complacent? Are we aware of the negative things that can happen and are we prepared to keep them from happening? Are we familiar with our sources of information and are these sources reliable and readily available?

With that said, we continue to promote our Peanut Risk Management Tool along with a new Field Log component. Based on the survey at this past year’s county peanut meetings and state meetings in South Carolina and Virginia, two-thirds of peanut farmers indicated that the majority of their records from year to year are kept on hand-written paper. Eighteen percent used a spreadsheet of some kind, and 23% relied on documentation associated with Worker Protection Standard records. Eight percent indicated that the primary location of information was their own memory; 4% relied on their consultant. And of course, some folks used multiple ways of keeping up with the information. We hope you will try our new spreadsheet Field Log that goes along with the Peanut Risk Tool. It is flexible, and you can record only what you think is most important. And it is your business – it is not tied to something on the web where others can gain access. There is certainly nothing wrong with any approach to record keeping – we are all different in how we approach this. As I have transitioned away from paper to electronic (I’m not all the way there), I find it much easier and efficient with time to find things and pull things together to make a decision. The idea behind the Peanut Risk Tool was to make it easier “to see” the interrelationships among the practices we use to grow peanuts and how all pest types (weeds, arthropods, disease, and nematodes) respond. It does not replace the Peanut Information series but it can help us see the relationships more clearly. And yes, I still have a file cabinet and a few of the drawers have information I inherited from Dr. Sullivan in 1996.

Speaking of the survey, we also found that across the Virginia-Carolina Region, sixty-four percent of growers planted in conventional tillage systems. Within reduced tillage systems, about 10% no-tilled into beds with a cover crop that were established sometime after the previous crop was harvested. About the same number of farmers strip tilled into crop stubble. Seven percent strip tilled into stale seedbeds with a cover crop, and about 5% either no-tilled into the previous crop’s stubble or no-tilled into a killed cover crop. These results clarify some of the information provided in 2020 Peanut Information (see page 32 for North Carolina data.)

There are many unknowns going into the 2020 growing season, most of which are related to movement of people and how markets and distribution of inputs respond during the current situation. We are all hoping for the best. With that said, there are basic inputs and practices a peanut crop needs. No matter what else is going, we can stack things in our favor and minimize risk to yield (and ultimately financial return) if we address the following “General Production Practices” in sufficient detail.

General Production Practices

Apply nutrients based on soil test recommendations and establish a pH of 6.0

Avoid excessive magnesium and potassium, but apply these if the soil test calls for them

Avoid fields with zinc (NCDA&CS index value of 250 or higher is risky)

Establish good rotations using cotton, corn, sorghum, or sweetpotato (limit soybean and tobacco before peanuts if possible)

Plant in mid-May if possible

Establish 5 plants per foot of row regardless of planting pattern or variety

Plant in conventional tillage in most fields unless you have a track record of success with reduced tillage (this is more important when soils have a finer texture)

Inoculate with Bradyrhizobia for biological nitrogen fixation using in-furrow products, irrespective of rotation history, making sure the inoculant solution reaches the bottom of the furrow

Apply calcium at pegging for all Virginia market types at the recommended rate, and apply at least half of the recommended rate for runner market types

Apply boron and manganese

Control pests using IPM practices (prevent pest problems if possible, avoid pest damage using resistant varieties and good rotations, monitor fields frequently, be timely with all inputs, and practice resistance management for insects, pathogens, and weeds)

Dig peanuts based on pod mesocarp color and try to align digging and harvesting capacities with acreage