For many north Mississippi farmers who are growing peanuts for the first time this year, it has been a learning experience.

“There has been a lot of enthusiasm for the crop — not just because of the potential for attractive returns, but for growers with suitable soils peanuts offer an opportunity for diversification and rotation benefits,” said Don Respess, Mississippi State University Extension director for Coahoma County, Miss.

Last year, he said at the North Mississippi Peanut Field Day on the farm of John and Mark Agostinelli at Clarksdale, “As best we can determine, there were only about 14,500 acres of peanuts in north Mississippi. This year, there are 30,000 to 35,000 acres, and statewide more than 50,000 acres.

 “The Clint Williams Company is making substantial investments in facilities at Clarksdale and Greenwood, said to be the largest peanut storage facilities in the U.S., and Birdsong Peanuts has large operations in east Mississippi and in Arkansas — so it looks like this is a crop that’s here to stay,” Respess says.

At the field day event, growers were briefed on weed, disease, insect, and harvest issues that have occurred this season, along with tips for next season.

“Many of the weed issues that growers face with peanuts they’ve already have experience with in other crops,” said

Tom Eubank, assistant research/Extension professor of weed science at the Delta Research and Extension Center, Stoneville, Miss. “A lot of the products for use in peanuts are the same as for soybeans.”

Growers who have ALS-resistant pigweed need to be aware of the importance of rotating crops and chemistries, he says.

“Starting with clean ground is imperative for peanuts because of the long interval from planting to canopy. Early season weed management is critical — if you don’t start clean, you could be looking at a mess the rest of the season.”

Weed wipers can be effective on escaped weeds, Eubank says, because peanut plant height remains fairly low all season.

2,4-DB is a material that can be very effective in peanut weed control, especially in sequential applications, he says.

Jeff Gore, assistant research professor of entomology at the Delta Research and Extension Center, said peanut research has been under way at the station for the past five years, “and for the past year we’ve had an extensive insect management program.

“Probably 95 percent of the questions we’ve had this year have been regarding above-ground insects; there was quite a bit of concern about thrips and tomato spotted wilt virus disease (TSWV) early in the season.

“With the varieties we have now, growers don’t have to worry as much about TWSV as they did 20 years ago,” Gore says. “The newer varieties have more tolerance to this disease.”

Thrips management options at planting include granular insecticides such as Thimet, he says. “Where these can be used, they are effective in getting plants off to a better start.

“In-furrow sprays are also a good option for thrips control, but they can increase the incidence of TWSV. For a short time after these materials are applied, the thrips go into a feeding frenzy, they move from plant to plant faster, and this can spread TWSV more rapidly.”

Another option for thrips control, he says, is Cruiser treated seed. “Cruiser provides good control of thrips, but the occurrence of TSWV can be higher where it is used for the same reason mentioned with in-furrow sprays.”