"OK. The No. 1 thing you hear from us all the time is that we cannot plant peanuts into a field where pigweed is already up. If we do, we're going to spend a lot of money trying to get those (weeds) under control and likely will still not get them under control," said Eric Prostko, UGA Extension weed specialist.
Proskto relayed the tale of a peanut grower who planted peanuts into a field that had four-foot pigweed. He disked and roto-tilled two times. Put out a pre-emergence herbicide, too. A week later, the grower called and said the pre wasn't working. The pigweeds were coming back. A pre isn't going to stop a chopped-up pigweed sprouting back. Prostko figured it cost the grower $21 per acre to try to clean up the pigweed after planting. Money wasted.
A delayed weed control application, for whatever reason, costs a grower yield, he said. Waiting three weeks after planting to apply a needed herbicide application can cost five percent of yield potential. For example, a delayed herbicide application on a potentially 5,000-pound crop would result in 250 pounds of lost yield, studies he cited show. "At 21 cents per pound, that's $51 per acre that's not going to be there when the peanuts are dug," he said. "Apply that to a 100-acre field and that's, of course, $5,100 you're not going to see.
Mark Abney, UGA Extension peanut entomologist, said not every peanut field in Georgia needs to be sprayed for insect pressure every year. But some things "are pretty darn certain:"
- Thrips will be in peanut fields;
- There will be caterpillars in fields;
- Not every field will need to be treated with an insecticide after planting;
- Hot, dry weather leads to lesser cornstalk borer and spider mite infestations.
A good scout who sees something and recommends action before a pest problem reduces yield can well be worth it, saving or adding value to a crop "to more than pay off for his services in-season or for several seasons" down the road, he said.
- Abney added some "Hindsight 20/20" observations from 2019:
- Thrips and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus increased in 2019 compared to previous years;
- The velvetbean caterpillar was abundant and did defoliate peanut fields;
- The lesser cornstalk borer showed up early and remained a threat all season;
- Rootworms continued to be a problem in some irrigated fields.
Bob Kemerait, UGA Extension plant pathologist, said when he goes to a field of a farmer who has called with a disease problem, the cause of the problem "can almost invariably" be tracked back to a one of these decisions:
- Rotation, or planting peanuts behind peanuts;
- Planting a susceptible variety;
- Planting farmer-saved seed without a good fungicide treatment;
- Using weaker fungicides fields with high risk for disease;
- Getting a late start on fungicide program;
- Getting behind on a fungicide program.
Peanut farmers do not need to let the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus go off their radars. It is still out there and in 2019 caused an estimated seven percent yield loss to Georgia's crop, the highest loss in almost 15 years.
Scott Monfort, UGA Extension peanut agronomist, said acquiring good quality seed is the No. 1 step to get a peanut crop off to a good start. "Remind your buying point to adhere to first-in, first-out rule and ask what the germination percentage is for the seed you are buying," he said. "Do not leave seed in a hot, humid place for a prolonged time, and it's a good idea to save a sample of seed for each lot you get. Save it in cool place," Monfort said.
UGA recommended seeding rate remains at six seed per foot of single row and seven to eight seed per foot of twin-row, shooting for a uniformly emerged stand of four plants per foot, which helps with Tomato Spotted Wilt risk.
2 to 3 mph
Seed can be planted two to 2.5 inches, or a bit shallower with good moisture and you can go as deep as three inches if the seed is high quality. He doesn't recommend using a fertility product in the furrow, and a planter speed of two to three mph, studies have shown, works best for uniform emergence. Things get skippy at speeds four to five mph
Terry Hollifield, executive director of the Georgia Crop Improvement Association, oversees the state's inspection of certified seed. At 112,662.76 acres, seed acres inspected in 2019 was slightly less than in 2018, but he is confident the 2020 seed supply is ample and early testing shows good quality.
Overall, 16 cultivars were grown for seed. By far the largest acreage for seed remains Georiga-06G at 97,692 acres. The second most planted for seed was TIFNV-Hi 0/L at 3,488 acres. Georgia-18RU and Georgia-16HO got bit over 1,400 acres each. The state seed lab has found Aspergillus flavus, he said, which causes aflatoxin, in some seed lots, adding that in some dryland peanuts "it was pretty severe, but those peanuts will not be part of the seed program," Terry Hollifield said.