Peanut Grower Column Jordan Peanut Notes No. 12 2021
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We are in the middle of our peanut production meetings in North Carolina. Like many states and organizations we are using a virtual format. I’m also doing this for the three courses I am involved with on campus this spring semester. This is very different but necessary, although I am looking forward to 2022 (not to wish my life away) so I can see people again and discuss peanuts together (and have a good meal.)
One thing I provide in the meetings is a list of the top thirteen items to consider when growing peanuts. Not sure how I ended up at 13, and now I am almost ready to adjust to 12 or 14. But this might be the wrong thing to do at this point (not sure how that whole bad luck thing works.) Not to date myself, but the list reminds me of the top ten list David Letterman used to present on his show. My peanut list is straightforward and for many the information is not new. But the things on the list are very important and if done correctly create an opportunity for growers to be successful. So here goes: 1) apply nutrients based on soil test results and obtain a pH of 5.8 to 6.2 (if using an average for the field, lime for 6.2 to make sure you get the areas of the field with low pH up to at least 5.8,) 2) avoid excessive Mg and K (but apply these elements if the soil test calls for them,) 3) avoid fields with zinc (in NC, a zinc index of 250 is the threshold with pH playing a role in the amount of possible injury – there is no correction for an issue with zinc,) 4) establish good rotations (cotton, corn, sorghum, and sweet potatoes are best but tobacco and soybean can be okay if placed in the right sequence with peanuts and other crops,) 5) plant improved varieties in May (the middle of May is often the best, but sometime in May works well,) 6) plant at least 5 seed per foot of row (we need to get at least 4 plants per foot of row to optimize yield,) 7) plant in conventional tillage with beds unless you have experience with reduced tillage (setting the field up in the fall for efficient digging and minimizing pod loss in this operation can be traced back to seedbed preparation in the spring – sandy fields give the greatest flexibility but some caution is warranted on finer-textured soils,) 8) irrigate if possible (target the first irrigation to help the initial pegs be successful,) 9) inoculate with Bradyrhizobia for nitrogen fixation (historically, we have observed a 40:1 return on investment in new ground with no history of peanuts and a 4:1 return on investment in rotated fields when peanuts were planted in recent years when either a liquid or granular inoculants was successfully delivered in the seed furrow at planting,) 10) apply calcium at pegging (use the 1X rate for all Virginia market types and at least a 0.5x rate for all runner market types,) 11) apply the micronutrients boron and manganese as needed (make sure the products you use have enough essential element to make a difference when considering cost,) 12) dig and harvest in a timely manner (based on pod mesocarp color) and try to get your digging and harvesting capacities in line for the acreage you have, and 13) control pests using integrated pest management practices (be timely and incorporate non-chemical practices whenever possible to decrease selection pressure for evolved resistance to all classes of pesticides.) In my experience, if you put all of these practices into play, you can be successful. The major culprit can be poor weather at critical times, but regardless of the weather, we need to put ourselves in a position to be successful. Sometimes we get lucky, but I do think we also create some of our luck by being prepared and working hard. Finally, I do have a number 14. It does not apply directly to peanut production but relates to a virtual peanut meeting we just had. As I rambled on about various aspects of peanut production and pest management, I could see one person on my screen listening intently (or maybe searching for the slide set for a long time,) but then for about twenty minutes he took a good, solid afternoon nap. The number 14 is for us to remember that our audio and video might be on for all to hear and see during these virtual meetings (not to say that doesn’t happen when we are all together around a really good meal – plenty good naps have been taken in those meetings.)