This year, almost three times more acres were planted by May 1 compared to the previous year, he adds. “In the five, 10 or 12 years prior, we were running less than 5 percent of crop planted in the month of April, and we needed to reverse that. Getting this crop planted earlier was a major change this year.”

Georgia’s peanut crop this year has consistently been rated good to excellent, says Beasley, with only 3 to 4 percent rated poor to very poor. Seventy-five percent was rated good to excellent in late September.

“Last year at this time, almost one-fourth of our crop was rated very poor or poor, but we ended up with the third highest yield on record.”

One factor contributing to the improvement in yields has been genetics, says Beasley, and the cultivars that currently are available to producers.

Also, weather conditions were nearly ideal. “Although the 2012 peanut growing season started out with very dry conditions in the winter and early spring, frequent summer rain events over most of Georgia’s peanut-growing region — combined with below-normal maximum and minimum temperatures — resulted in more closer to ideal growing conditions than we’ve experienced since 2003. In fact, the growing conditions in 2012 are very similar to 2003, and the cultivars we are planting have a better genetic yield potential.”

Seventy-five percent of Georgia’s acreage this year is planted in the GA-06G cultivar, says Beasley, and other outstanding options are available.

If growers can harvest this year’s crop in a timely manner, there is a very good chance the record-high average yield will be broken, predicts Beasley.

Pest problems this year have been either minimal or controlled well, he says. “Weed control has been very good to excellent statewide, and the credit for that goes primarily to Palmer amaranth pigweed. This weed has been such an issue in the state that growers are paying closer overall attention to their weed control programs, and the result has been good management.”

The major insect problem, he says, has been the three-cornered alfalfa hopper throughout most of the season, tobacco budworms during early to mid-season, and soybean loopers and caterpillars in late season.

“Only a small percentage of Georgia peanut fields reached treatable levels. Diseases were the most common pest problem with a typical mix of leaf spots and stem rot or white mold, which are common in wet years.”

phollis@farmpress.com