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Open fall needed to finish peanut crop

SEMINOLE, Texas — A bit more good weather this fall and the Texas peanut crop could be one of the best in years, according to consultants, farmers and Extension specialists gathered at a research field day recently near here.

"I think we’re looking at a good crop, better than last year," said crop consultant Ron Henning. "And I’ve seen a lot of thin hulls so the peanuts ought to grade well."

Henning said overall quality of the crop should be good, "unless we get an early cold spell and that doesn’t look likely. I think the crop will mature quickly."

Henning said he’d like to see some breeding work aimed at developing an early maturing variety. "We need to get serious about earlier varieties," he said. Short season selections might not yield quite as well but could provide a bit of insurance for farmers on some acreage.

Gaines County farmer Chuck Rowland said his crop looks promising. "I’ve seen a little more leaf spot than usual but we’ve had more rain this summer."

He said summer rains and milder than usual temperatures may have brought on a bit more disease pressure but also allowed him to save a bit on mid-season irrigation.

"But we didn’t cut back that much," he said. "Now, we want to give them enough water to fill them out until harvest."

Other farmers also indicated that the crop was progressing well with only a few weeks left until harvest.

Statewide optimism

Texas Extension peanut specialist Todd Baughman said the crop looks good across the state. He said peanuts around the Vernon area also have suffered a bit more leaf spot than usual.

"We need about 15 to 30 more good days to finish the crop out," Baughman said.

Mike Schubert, retired peanut researcher, said 2004 bears a striking resemblance to 1996, a good peanut year.

"We’ve had some cool weather and heat units may be a little behind the 12-year average," Schubert said.

He said in 1996, conditions started out dry but if growers had enough moisture to get a stand the plants grew off well.

"Summer temperatures were moderate and we got some rain," he said. "Yields were good that fall."

Schubert said heat unit accumulation in mid-September was "about where we were in 1996. We’re about 189 units behind the 12-year average but that’s not a lot. We’re not that far behind but we need a good fall."


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