North Carolina peanut farmers received a refresher course on the best ways to maximize yields at this year’s winter meetings held in peanut counties across the state.
The importance of the right soil pH, the right rotation and the right planting date have been emphasized in each of the 12 meetings across North Carolina peanut country. Through it all the importance of timeliness, attention to detail and using multiple modes of action to control pests was emphasized.
In each of the meetings, North Carolina State University Extension Peanut Specialist Dr. David Jordan emphasized that the proper soil pH, from 5.8 to 6.2, is essential for healthy plants and higher yields. He said a pH of 6.0 helps farmers get a good response from the things they are adding to the crop and spending money on to improve yield.
“It helps you get response from other inputs. There are two major ways it does that: When we put out gypsum or landplaster and our pH is at 5.5, a lot of times, we’re not going to get positive response from the landplaster,” Jordan said at the Bertie County peanut meeting at the Windsor Community Building in Windsor Feb. 10.
“When you get the pH to 6.0, you start getting a positive response from your inoculant for nitrogen fixation. We feel we get a couple hundred pounds of yield increase when we inoculate in-the-furrow with a liquid or granular treatment in fields where you have had peanuts recently. If your pH is lower, it’s less likely to get a positive response to inoclulant,” Jordan added.
As he has in peanut meetings in earlier years, Jordan once again emphasized the importance of the right rotation to improve peanut yields. He acknowledged that economics do drive many farmers to add soybeans to their rotation, but he noted that research in North Carolina shows about a six percent drop in peanut yields for each of the years of soybeans in the rotation.
“I bet a third of our peanut acreage in this state has soybeans in that rotation somewhere. My recommendation is that you plant soybeans right behind peanuts then you get three, four or five years of cotton, sorghum or corn after that before you go back into peanuts,” Jordan said.
When it comes to the best planting date, Jordan noted the middle of May still offers the most consistent higher yields, compared to planting in late-April, early-May or waiting until June.
Over the past two years, about 15 percent of North Carolina’s peanuts have been planted in June due to weather constraints in May. “We were pretty lucky the last couple of years with late-planted peanuts,” Jordan said. “We had good moisture after we planted and a good fall to get the crop out.”
Still, Jordan urged a planting date targeted around May 15 works best, although he acknowledged this isn’t always possible due to the weather. Long-standing research in North Carolina does show a 15 to 20 percent drop in yield for peanuts planted in June.
In the meantime, Jordan said the new high oleic variety Bailey II has out-performed the non-oleic variety Bailey in yield trials across the state. In three years, Jordan expects Bailey will be completely phased out and replaced with Bailey II.
In addition to Bailey II, Jordan sees good yield potential for the varieties Emery and Sullivan, which are also high-oleic. Jordan said the in-shell trade for Virginia-type peanuts is calling for high oleic peanuts.
“By 2021, folks should be able to get some Bailey IIs. By 2022, most people will be able to get Bailey II and Bailey will go away. We don’t see any drawbacks to Bailey II,” he said.