After emergence, Hancock says to spray with an insecticide to control mole crickets and other insect pests, and to irrigate if possible.

Growers also should scout and spray for alfalfa weevils in February and March and fall armyworms during the summer.

University of Georgia researchers have developed an alfalfa variety — Bulldog 805 — that tolerates grazing, has excellent hay yields, and is adapted for the Coastal Plain region. It also has high pest and disease resistance.

While the results at the Expo site this year have not been what was hoped for, researchers will continue to work on a system for growing organic peanuts, says Carroll Johnson, USDA-ARS.

“Last year in Tifton, we had two acres planted to organic peanuts, three varieties, one fungicide application of copper and sulfur, eight cultivations with specialized equipment, and one very quick, cursory hand weeding, and we yielded more than 5,000 pounds per acre. But everything lined up just right last year. Nothing has worked for us this year,” says Johnson.

“But this is real-world, and we’re sticking with it,” he adds.

The real missing link in making organic peanuts a viable enterprise on Georgia farms is having someone to process them and maintain the integrity of the organic certification, he says.

“The majority of organic peanut butter in the U.S. goes to California, and that’s from one farming operation in west Texas and eastern New Mexico. They grow Valencia peanuts, which has about half the potential of what we grow here.

“We can do it better in Georgia. We can grow them here and we can do it better. We need to close the circle — we need someone to buy them, shell them, blanch them, and roast them,” says Johnson.

Stand establishment and seed quality is a problem in organic production, he says, and there aren’t any good seed treatments. “You have to plant in good conditions and have good seed to begin with. Marginal quality seed will betray you in organics.”

Researchers with the University of Georgia Peanut Team continue to evaluate different cultivars in various planting systems at the Expo site. They’re currently looking at eight runner-type varieties in single and twin-row planting patterns. Five are currently available to growers while three are newly released.

This is a duplication location of a test we’ve been running in Tifton for several years on tillage versus cultivar versus row pattern,” says John Paulk, research coordinator.

“We initiated this test in November of last year. We mowed cotton stalks, disked them and planted wheat. We killed the wheat in late March and started harrowing for our conventional-tillage part of the test. On April 11, we laid off rows and strip-tilled on the same day,” he says.

Peanuts at the Expo were planted on April 16, says Paulk, and followed with an application of Prowl, Valor, Strongarm and Dual.