EDITOR’S NOTE — Organizers of the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award have reviewed production data from previous winners to arrive at a “Top 10 Keys to Peanut Profitability.” This list of successful production practices has been presented in descending order in Southeast Farm Press and on this website, with sponsorship provided by DuPont Crop Protection. The Peanut Profitability Awards, based on production efficiency in whole-farm situations, is entering its 13th year and is administered by Marshall Lamb, research director for the National Peanut Research Laboratory, and his staff.

Combined, the previous nine Keys to Peanut Profitability will help growers produce higher yields and higher quality peanuts.

But without water, the success of each key is significantly reduced and that is why irrigation comes in at No. 1 in the list of Top 10 Keys to Peanut Profitability.

Marshall Lamb, director of the USDA National Peanut Laboratory, says irrigation increases peanut yield by about 30 percent on a 10 year average, and even drastically higher in drought years like those experienced in all peanut producing regions in recent years.                                   

“Managing irrigation with Irrigator Pro will add at least 300 pounds per acre in yield for irrigated producers,” he says. “This is why so many past Peanut Profitability and high yield winners use Irrigator Pro — including one of last year’s winners, Kreg Freeman, and a host of others.”

The availability of moisture for peanuts is critical at key times in the growing season for maximum yield and to reduce stress that can affect both yield and quality. Without irrigation, during the past three years many growers across the peanut-producing belt in the U.S. simply couldn’t plant peanuts because of a lack of soil moisture.

This year, for example, Luray, S.C., growers Bud and Corrin Bowers say they couldn’t plant cotton or peanuts on time because they didn’t have moisture in some fields. Fortunately, they have irrigation on some of their peanut land and could apply enough water to plant.

Unfortunately, about a third of their peanut crop this year is on new ground, which for the most part is not irrigated.

“Because of a lack of moisture at planting time, this has been one of the most frustrating times I’ve had in farming,” says Bud Bowers. “We got backed up on planting cotton, which got us backed up on planting peanuts — without irrigation we would have been in a bigger mess.”

Like so many growers across the Southeast and Virginia-Carolina belts, the Bowerses have to contend with herbicide-resistant weeds, particularly glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth (pigweed).

In the past, growers dealt with virtually every weed problem with glyphosate pre-plant and an over the top early season application of the same material, plus one or two others to control the few grasses and weeds not adequately controlled by glyphosate.

Now, it is almost standard practice among peanut growers go back to a pre-glyphosate regimen, applying pre-plant herbicides to manage resistant weeds and reduce the amount of glyphosate used in order to lower the risk of further resistance problems.