Ricky and Delano Kneece are not newcomers to peanut yield awards — far from it, they have won the past two years and three of the past four in South Carolina’s annual peanut production contest.

The 2009 entry from the father (Delano) and son farming team topped out at over 5,700 pounds per acre.

Kneece, says sticking to a four-year rotation, firm planting date and timely fungicide applications are keys to their peanut production success. Over the past decade, they have averaged better than 5,000 pounds per acre, which is traditionally a ton or so higher than the state average.

Rotation also helps keep fertilizer prices down, and at a time when prices for nitrogen and other crop nutrients are soaring, that is a big consideration. “We go by soil samples, but even if samples don't call for nitrogen, we typically put down 30 units per acre. We put down gypsum that has sulfur in it, which also helps,” Kneece says.

The South Carolina grower is also a stickler for timing. “We don't start planting peanuts before May 10. Every day, I record what I've planted, and we spray fungicides and herbicides on a precise schedule. The first application will be exactly at 35 days, never later, and only earlier, if rain is forecast. The next spray will be 14 days later, following the schedule developed by Jay Chapin, peanut specialist at Clemson.

Brad Boozer, executive director of the South Carolina Peanut Board presented the annual statewide yield championship to Delano and Ricky Kneece at the group’s annual meeting in Orangeburg, S.C.

Outstanding as it was, the 2009 entry was over 200 pounds per acre less than Kneece’s 2008 entry, which won with 5,954 pounds per acre on 452 acres. Kneece is a former Peanut Productivity Award Winner and placed second in the National Corn Growers Association 2008 Yield Contest in the irrigated, no-till, strip-till category.

In 2009, South Carolina Peanut growers averaged 3,100 pounds per acre on nearly 50,000 acres. In 2008, state growers set a 10-year record by producing 3,900 pounds per acre.

At the meeting in Orangeburg, long-time South Carolina Peanut Board members Ashley Bush and Claude Elmore were recognized for their service to the state’s peanut industry. Both Bush and Elmore are long-time peanut growers and were instrumental in bringing large acreage peanut production to the state.

e-mail: rroberson@farmpress.com