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Some areas of Alabama received more than adequate rainfall this summer, but the extremely high temperatures still took a tool on cotton, peanut and soybean crops.
Some areas in Alabama — including the east-central portion of the state —experienced a record-breaking string of 95 to 100-plus-degree days this summer. This, coupled with drought, has turned a promising spring into a dismal harvest for many producers.
Dry, hot weather definitely will have an impact on this year’s peanut crop, as seen during a mid-August tour through the east-central portion of the state.
“Peanuts are an indeterminate crop, and they’ll grow vines until they are about 100 days old. But the majority of peanuts in east-central Alabama were planted on May 10, and they are small,” said Auburn University Extension peanut agronomist Kris Balkcom, speaking on the East Alabama Crops Tour on Aug. 13.
Time is running out for some peanut growers, he says. “I pulled up some peanuts yesterday in southwest Alabama, and the nuts had turned loose inside the pod. More than likely, those peanuts are done. Even though they’re indeterminate, and can fruit at any time, there’s a certain point that marks an end to the fruiting size. Pegs are being burned off when they hit dirt because the soil temperature is too hot and environmental conditions are not favorable for them to set,” he says.
One good thing about the dry weather this summer is that it has slowed down the development of leafspot disease in peanuts, says Austin Hagan, Auburn University Extension plant pathologist. “If we have fairly constant rainfall, leafspot is maintained at a high level. We saw that last year when it rained during most of the summer in most production areas. This year, we’ve seen a good deal less,” he says.
In dry conditions like those this year, some growers have stretched their leafspot spray intervals to two to three weeks. “Of course if it starts raining, you need to be in front of it. Once we get into early to mid-September, there’s not a lot we can do with the materials that are available. Once the leaves start to come off, they will continue until harvest,” says Hagan.