Rotation and moisture management are the two most important factors for growing profitable peanuts in West Texas, says Cornelius Enns, peanut and cotton farmer at Seminole in Gaines County, Texas.

Enns, winner of the 2011 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award for the Southwest Region, says water is always the limiting factor in his peanut production program. “We have to make every drop of irrigation water count,” he says.

That philosophy helped him average 4,900 pounds per acre for the 2010 crop, including 55 acres of runner peanuts and 60 acres of Virginias. He averaged 5,713 pounds on Virginias and 4,540 pounds per acre on runners.

Like many West Texas farmers, Enns works with a limited water supply. “I have some fields with weak water — 300 gallons for one center pivot circle. Last year I watered as much as I could. It usually takes a week to run the pivot across a half-circle, and I probably watered peanuts 19 or 20 times. I rarely turned the system off, and applied about an inch a week.”

An early July rain helped tremendously, he says. “We got about 5 inches in one week.”

Water management also means pulling back as necessary to help manage pod rot, especially on Virginia-type peanuts. “I can hold off a little,” when conditions favor disease pressure, he says.

He uses wobbler nozzles on pivots, set about 30 inches above the plants. “I like to get peanuts wet from the top to help get pegs in the ground,” he says.

He sticks strictly to a four-year rotation of peanuts and cotton. “Cotton is my main crop, and it is good in rotation with peanuts. The peanut rotation helps the following cotton crop, which picks up a little nitrogen from the peanuts.