May Peanut Grower Magazine Column Jordan Peanut Notes No. 50 2022

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As we move into the planting season there may be a tendency to reduce inputs to save money. This is understandable given the anticipated expense of growing the peanut crop in 2022. However, the majority of our inputs pay for themselves. Early in the season, there are two areas that likely will be closely scrutinized for their contributions to peanut yield and financial return – weed and thrips control. In the Virginia-Carolina region both of these pests can have a negative impact on yield if they are not controlled. A solid herbicide program with residuals at the beginning of the season along with in-furrow insecticide sprays for thrips pay for themselves even when margins are tight. If we cut back on these, we very likely will find ourselves playing catchup in June. In my experiences, applying a preplant incorporated herbicide (either Prowl or Sonalan), a chloroacetamide herbicide plus flumioxazin (Valor SX) right after planting and paraquat plus Basagran plus residual herbicides approximately 3 weeks after planting provides a solid foundation moving into the remainder of the season. In most fields, a follow up spray(s) is needed but just one or perhaps two. It can be attractive to cut back on herbicides early in the season and focus on postemergence herbicides. However, the challenge is being able to be timely with these sprays, especially at the frequency needed, when residual herbicides are not applied. Equally as important is resistance management. The residual herbicides applied early in the season have sites of action different from some of the herbicides we apply later in the season (that are vulnerable to resistance.) Moreover, when we rely heavily on our postemergence herbicides, we are often making applications to larger weeds, and when we get incomplete control, we push populations toward resistance. It is hard to keep up with postemergence sprays once weeds get away from us.

We also need to buy time early in the season with respect to thrips control. In-furrow sprays give us protection and provide greater flexibility in terms of follow up sprays applied to peanut foliage (primarily acephate) if needed. While thrips control with imidacloprid has been inconsistent in recent years in some areas, this insecticide still suppresses thrips in many cases. AgLogic and Phorate are also proven in the market place. One might argue that leaving off the in-furrow spray and applying acephate to peanut foliage can save money. Nevertheless, one spray of acephate is seldom adequate. Can you make a foliar spray within a week or so after peanuts emergence and then follow up with a second spray 10 to 14 days later? This is a logistical challenge. In most fields, it takes two sprays – either one insecticide in-furrow followed by a postemergence spray 3 weeks after planting or making two postemergence sprays 7 and then 21 days after peanuts emerge. With the acreage we have, the latter approach carries considerable risk.

We still need four or 5 plants per foot of row to optimize yield. Inoculant applied in the seed furrow for biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) still pays in both rotated fields and in new ground fields. With current nitrogen costs, it is especially important for farmers to make sure they are delivering live bacteria in the bottom of the seed furrow in a uniform manner to make sure there are no issues with BNF.

In summary, our approach to getting an adequate stand with adequate BNF and without significant weed interference and feeding from thrips is essential no matter what the price of peanuts happens to be or the expense of these early season inputs. If we decide to put peanuts in the ground, we simply have to get them off to a good start.