Planting Flat Peanut Notes No. 54 2023
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I feel like you touched on this before, but I have a grower that is concerned with erosion that is associated with bedding up land for peanuts. Given the recent rain pattern we’ve had down this way over the last couple of years, he was wondering the difference planting flat would make. I feel like this was touched on in the past and I felt like the benefit is mainly realized at harvest when it comes to beds vs. flat, but maybe you could touch on this?
I agree that rows (beds) can capture water and increase erosion in some instances. Funneling higher amounts of water off of fields does create that issue. Planting flat can create the potential for ponding in low areas and this can negatively affect stands, especially in wet springs. Soils also warm up more slowly in flat ground compared with beds. I’m not sure which one creates that biggest problem. Neither are ideal. My biggest concern with planting flat is challenges with digging. RTK systems for digging have created the possibility to plant flat and still track rows. Prohexadione calcium (Apogee and Kudos) helps with row visibility as well. However, peanuts planted in flat ground often require that the digger is set a little deeper. The ground is never completely flat. Even if the digger is not set any deeper, there is considerably more soil going through the digger in flat ground compared with rows and this can increase pod loss. It is not a major issue in fields that are sandy. But in fields that have significant areas that have finer-textured soils, there is almost always a greater amount of pod loss when the field is planted flat compared with planting on beds. The premise of our risk tool for transitioning to reduced tillage from conventional tillage (see pages 33-34 in 2023 Peanut Information) is not so much an issue with the tillage but the fact that in reduced tillage there is often much less of a bed. And that leaves peanuts prone to greater pod loss because they are in flat ground, especially on finer-textured land, compared with conventional.
I think if the erosion is high, there are ways to mitigate that on edges and ends of fields to keep the soil in the field, at the very least. Certainly more work.