What is in this article?:
• The Kneece family has won the South Carolina yield championship five of the past six years.
• The only year they didn’t win it, they finished second behind state champion Britt Rowe, who farms near Lynchburg, S.C.
RICKY KNEECE says winning state peanut yield championships is nice, but growing high yielding crops is the real goal.
In the past they started in peanuts in the late summer or early fall by bush-hogging their corn stalks. Last year they bought a Turbo Till machine that they run on an angle, do no disking, and then take soil samples. Once they get the soil analysis back, they put out lime and run a Worksaver TerraMax or Bigham Brothers Para-till plow at an angle across the field.
The TerraMax leaves all the litter on top of the soil. Then they come behind it with a no-till grain drill and plant 1.5 bushels per acres. Wheat is drilled in at an opposite angle to the pattern in which they ran the Para-till machine.
“We feel using these opposite angles with deep tillage levels the land up better than we’ve done in the past,” Kneece says. Once the land is smooth, they come back a month before peanut planting in the spring and apply lime based on their soil samples.
The TerraMax and Para-till actually lift thesoil and then drop it as they are pulled through the field. This action shatters hardpanssimilar to dropping concrete, effectively loosening soil above the shanksor wings.
This type of hardpan shattering will last longer than the furrow-type done by
conventional shanks and allows crop roots to more effectively "search" the profile for water and nutrients after use of these winged plows.
Though they have had a long history of top yielding peanut crops, they constantly tweak their production system, looking for another few pounds per acre.
Last year they started using grid sampling in hopes of improving the cost and efficacy of their fertilizer program.
They apply fertilizer a month or so ahead of planting to give it time to break down in their sandier soils. Then, they burn everything down with glyphosate or other burndown herbicides and come back and plant peanuts.
Kneece jokes that high wheat prices tempted him to let his wheat cover crop mature this year. “We need the cover crop to keep our sandy soils from blowing and we feel like with the cover on the ground, we don’t have as many weeds to deal with in the spring,” he explains.
The South Carolina grower says he follows his father’s (Delano Kneece) advice when it comes to nitrogen rates. “My dad did custom application for years for two long-time peanut growers, and they always applied 30 units of nitrogen in front of peanuts. The reasoning is it helps break down organic matter and it gives peanuts a little better chance of getting out of the ground quickly,” he says.
He also says grid sampling will allow him to be more precise on the amount of potash and phosphorous on their sandy soils. “We look at the nitrogen profiles on the grid sampling, but sticking close to that 30 units per acre has worked out too well for us to change,” Kneece says.
Prior to planting they apply a locally produced gypsum on their peanut land. Kneece says applying a little extra (1.25 versus 1 ton) gypsum is a little thing that helps increase his peanut yields.