During four or five of the last seven peanut harvests in Georgia, temperatures by Oct. 20 were cold enough to shut down maturity, notes Beasley.

“If you don’t start planting your crop until June 5, June 10 or June 15, you run the risk of getting to Oct. 15 or Oct. 20, and having temperatures so cold the crop doesn’t mature properly. That’ll reduce your yield and grade.”

While he goes against previous recommendations, Beasley says he encourages growers to plant more of their crop in April.

“This will help you and the entire peanut industry. In a lot of years, growers without irrigation have moisture in April, but it dries out in May. I would like to see 25 to 30 percent of our crop planted in April if possible. We’re planting too many peanuts in June, and we need to get away from planting any in June if possible,” he says.

He cautions, however, that soil temperature should be a concern in April. “It should be at least 65 degrees or higher for several consecutive days. Do not plant with a cold front approaching or ahead of a big rain event. Such an event can lower the soil temperature.

“I’m a little concerned about the 65 degrees to be honest with you. In tests, we’ve seen a pretty dramatic jump in germination rates going from 65 to 70. So we shouldn’t plant too early in April.”

(Over the years there has also been a lot of interest in peanut seeding rates. How much can rates be cut before economics come into play? The answer to that question can be found at http://southeastfarmpress.com/peanuts/peanut-seeding-rates-under-scrutiny).

In the past two years, researchers have conducted trials planting four cultivars for seven consecutive weeks, says Beasley. Last year, they started planting on April 19 and finished May 31.

“We planted Georgia-06G, Georgia-10T, Georgia-07W and Georgia Greener. April 26 was the highest average yield of the seven planting dates, and Georgia-06G gave us the highest yield. We could make good peanuts when we plant in April and early May just like we did in the old days.”

Going into 2012, Beasley says there essentially are five peanut cultivars with adequate seed supplies — Georgia-06G, Georgia Greener, Georgia-07W, Florida-07 and Tifguard. There also are some new varieties, and there will be limited supplies of those this year, including Georgia-10T, Georgia-09B and FloRun ‘107.’