Peanut producers have heard a lot about new cultivars, some that will be available in the next two to three years. But for all practical purposes, only five will be available for planting this year.

“If you’re a producer, you need to focus on these five,” said University of Georgia Extension peanut specialist John Beasley during the recent Georgia Peanut Farm Show held in Albany. “Based on seed acreage in 2010, there are five cultivars that will account for 95 percent  of the acreage in the Southeast in 2011, and they include Georgia-06G, Georgia Greener, Georgia-07W, Tifguard and Florida-07,” he says.

In Georgia alone last year, 67 percent of the state’s acreage was in Georgia-06G, he adds.

So what criteria does a producer use when deciding which of these five to plant? Seed availability is a good place to start, advises Beasley.

“When a new cultivar is released, there is usually a very limited supply of seed. It typically takes two to three years after the cultivar is released to build the seed supply to an adequate level to meet producers’ demands,” he says.

On the other end of the spectrum, when an older cultivar is under less demand, seed supply dwindles. “An example of this would be Georgia Green and Georgia-02C, both of which have seen demand for seed drop dramatically the past few years. There will be very limited seed of both cultivars in 2011,” he says.

Growers obviously should compare the yields and grades of the various cultivars when deciding which one or ones to plant on their farm, says Beasley.

“Fortunately, most of the new cultivars that have been released over the past three years have a higher yield potential than Georgia Green. In the UGA Statewide Variety Trials and in small plot and on-farm large plot trials, we have seen Georgia-06G, Florida-07, Tifguard, Georgia Greener and Georgia-07W consistently out-yield Georgia Green. The grades of these cultivars, with the exception of Florida-07, have been equal to or better than Georgia Green,” says the agronomist.

Data is available to compare the five cultivars that’ll be planted this year, he says, including trials from Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Beasley recommends that growers don’t look at just one year’s data.

Disease resistance, he says, is another important trait to look for in a cultivar. “The peanut breeding programs in the Southeast have released numerous cultivars in the past 10 years with much better resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus. Resistance to leaf spots, white mold, CBR and peanut root-knot nematode now exist in one or more cultivars. Tifguard has a very high level of resistance to peanut root-knot nematode and should be planted in fields with a history or large population of this pest, says Beasley.

Growers can utilize Peanut Rx to determine a cultivar’s level of disease resistance or tolerance when comparing them to one another, he says. “This tool allows a producer to select a cultivar, or cultivars based on the expected disease problem or problems within a given field, based on expected field and environmental conditions.”