“Particularly, one piece of equipment seems to do the trick — a flex tine cultivator,” said Boudreau. “Use it before the peanuts emerge and every few days afterward for about three weeks or until the canopy closes.”

When set at the right speed and tine height, the cultivator scratches the soil surface exposing weed seeds, which dries them out.

The project, “Exploiting the Organic Peanut Market: Design of Production Systems for the Southeast” (LS05-169), wrapped up this year. Project investigators plan to develop an organic peanut production guide as a result of their findings.

For Southeast growers interested in producing organic peanuts, Boudreau recommends the following production tips:

• Install an irrigation system for maximum insect control and to ensure a competitive stand.

• Don’t plant in soils with heavy weed pressure.

• Choose varieties with disease resistance. Certified organic farmers must use untreated seed.

• Conduct intensive mechanical cultivation, preferably with a flex tine cultivator.

• Establish a good quality stand and replant gaps before weeds emerge.

• Where applicable, treat seed with organic seed treatments.

• Be prepared to do some spot hand weeding.

• Don’t overwhelm yourself with high acreage. For beginning farmers, a good starting point is three to five acres. Even seasoned growers have planted no more than 20 acres so far, Boudreau said.

With the how-to established, the next challenge for organic peanut producers is finding places in the Southeast to shell their crop, said Boudreau.

“The biggest road block to organic peanut production is the lack of certified organic shellers,” Boudreau said. “But it’s inevitable that there will be an organic peanut industry in the Southeast. All it’s going to take is one certified organic sheller to turn the tide.”

Other project participants include Clemson University Edisto Research and Education Center, USDA-ARS Coastal Plain Experiment Station, and North Carolina State University.

For more on the final report, visit SARE’s national database at http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewRept&pn=LS05-169&y=2006&t=0.