Keeping Expectations in Check Peanut Notes No. 53 2020

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Inputs that Contribute to Yield

Maintaining or increasing yield requires significant inputs in the form of fertilizer, lime, optimum plant populations, inoculation for biological nitrogen fixation, plant growth regulation and protection from pest damage. NC State Extension budgets provide a list of the major inputs that peanuts need. Of course, the list in not exhaustive – there are other products on the market that are not captured in the budgets. However, the items in the budget form the foundation for the yields we hope to achieve. When the inputs listed in budgets are included at appropriate rates and timings, the majority of yield potential will be realized. Weather is often the main issue. With peanuts, timeliness of digging is not captured in the budget but we know that is critical. Digging 10 days early can cost a grower 5-10% of yield potential. Outside of these inputs and the timeliness of their implementation, one should not expect large increases in yield from other inputs. Perhaps modest increases but not large. I would define anything above 5% as a large increase that is measurable. More modest increases can occur but they may not be measurable or noticeable and they may not be frequent.

With that said, if a product comes along with a promise or even a suggestion of a 10% yield increase, you should meet that with a degree of skepticism. That does not mean that the product does not contribute to yield. It just means that when you take care of the essentials as outlined in our budgets, you are unlikely, on a consistent basis, to obtain a 10% yield increase with a single application of an input that is not routinely used. One could argue that research trials have simply not been conducted in the right scenario to see the increase. I can’t argue with that. We are simply not able to conduct exhaustive experiments with all products. Does something help 1 out 5 or 10 or 20 times? We don’t always know. However, in my experience, when something other than a key input (fertilizer or lime, a product that protects from pest damage, inoculant, the right variety in the right field, timely irrigation, or digging on time) is used, the response is going to be modest at best and likely not consistent across most environments.

There are a lot of inputs you can spend money on. It never hurts to try some of these, but keep your expectations in check. In many cases products are oversold.