Planting in April Peanut Notes No. 49 2024

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I was asked about planting peanut the week of April 15. While it has been a long time since we have had a planting date trial with April included, when we compare early May to mid-May to late-May, yield of the mid-May plantings are always as high or higher than the earlier or later plantings. I can’t imagine mid-April or late April plantings doing better than early May plantings. With that said, one reason folks want to get going is because they have a lot to do in May. Planting is a major operation, and getting it out of the way opens the door to more plantings prior to late May. I say late May, because for cotton we need to plant earlier in May and for peanut when we get into June yields drop off in most years. We all know it can get wet in May, and that can stack things up in late May for field operations. So I completely understand the reasoning for wanting to get things going just as soon as you can.

Here is a list of pros and cons for very early planting in North Carolina for peanut.


Getting the planting operation complete so one can move on to other important operations. Planting early will not guarantee earlier harvest. My estimate is that a 3-week difference in planting date in May will result in no more than a 1-week difference in optimum maturity. The peanuts planted later will make up a lot of ground because they have more heat units from the very start.

Less damage from southern corn rootworm and possibly, though not substantiated, less damage from burrower bug. But I don’t think mid-April and late-April offer less risk to these insects than planting the first week of May.


Peanuts may stay in the ground much longer when planted very early. I’ve seen peanuts take three weeks to emerge. The longer plants take to emerge the greater likelihood there can be some stand loss even when seed are treated with fungicides. This really does stress the ability of seed treatments to provide protection.

Thrips populations will be higher on young peanut plants for a longer period of time. Peanuts tolerate thrips damage in two ways. First, systemic insecticides applied in the seed furrow provide a few weeks of essential protection. The longer it takes for peanuts to emerge the less effective the insecticide is once the peanuts do emerge. Systemic insecticides in the seed furrow do not last for a long period of time. Secondly, peanuts tolerate thrips by outgrowing the damage. This will generally not happen when peanuts are planted early. Without adequate heat units, the peanuts just sit there. And as they sit there, the thrips feed and feed and feed. When planted in May, the peanuts emerge more quickly and this provides a greater likelihood of insecticide in pants for protection. The peanuts are also more likely to outgrow the damage when they have more heat units.

The grower asking about planting in April indicated that imidacloprid is used and that control has decreased over the years. The grower also indicated that acephate was not working as well and that a shift to other products had already been made in cotton. The thought of marginal control with imidacloprid (the farmer is not interested in going to a granular and we did not discuss Vydate) and marginal control with acephate on top of slow growing peanuts planted in April when thrips population might be higher, seems like an unnecessarily risky start to the peanut crop.

I see some disadvantages from a weed control standpoint. A slower emerging and growing crop is less competitive with weeds and is less likely to tolerate stress from herbicides. There is also a greater likelihood paraquat is a less safe option because peanuts might have significant injury from thrips.

Even though it is warm now, it can get wet and cold in late April and early May. We could see stand issues, either lower stands or erratic emergence. This would favor greater incidence of tomato spotted wilt.

And I’d just worry a lot about getting a poor stand, especially having just spent money on seed, inoculant, insecticide, and preemergence herbicides applied right after planting. A replant takes almost all the profit away. Each one of these inputs would be required in a replant.