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Winter decisions may affect peanut profits

Profitable yields from the 2002 peanut crop may depend on decisions farmers make this fall and winter.As growers complete harvest they should take stock of practices they used this year and plan to make necessary corrections with systems, materials or strategies that did not pan out.

And they must continually improve their overall management program to enhance profitability, say Extension peanut specialists.

“Rotation remains a key to producing quality peanuts,” says Floyd McCalister, Extension agent in Portales, New Mexico. “It's difficult and expensive to produce a quality peanut crop relying on chemicals for soil borne disease control. A rotation program with the proper cropping sequence can be more effective, economical and yield better results.”

Robert Lemon, Texas A&M Extension agronomist at College Station, says seed quality issues also affect peanut yield and grade. “Growers must be aware of seed quality issues and purchase the highest quality seed possible,” he says.

“And farmers should be prepared to adjust seeding rates based on seed quality. Even though most farmers use vacuum planters, seeding rates need to be adjusted to end up with final plant stands of 3 to 5 plants per row foot for optimum production.”

Managing nutrition throughout the season will pay dividends, McCalister says. He recommends, “total nutrient management with foliar applications, as needed, by ground rig or sprinkler irrigation to balance plant needs. Results will include healthier plants and less chance for disease infection, as well as higher yields.”

McCalister and Lemon agree that water management will be critical.

“Be sure to assess the water quality of all pivots that will be planted in peanuts,” Lemon says. “Every year we see fields that should not be planted to peanuts due to poor water quality.”

“Wise water management can help make the most of the available water supply,” McCalister says. “Much of the Southwest is experiencing declining water supplies and maximizing water utilization is becoming more important each year.”

Lwmon says growers who plan to plant Spanish-type peanuts might want to consider changing row patterns. “Growers who plan to contract Spanish acreage should give strong consideration to planting in the twin row configuration,” he says. “Field observations indicate that Spanish do very well in this system.”

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