“We planted all varieties in single and twin rows in 2011 to see if there were yield differences,” Balkcom says. “We saw a yield response for twin rows in all except Florida 07 and Georgia 02C, both typically longer season varieties.

 “A lot of new growers are set up on 30-inch rows, and we’ve looked at 30-inch compared to single and twin 36-inch. Basically, over the last four years, we’ve seen that single 30-inch rows are about the same as twin 36-inch rows, keeping the same seeding rate and population. You increase your planter cost a bit, but you can utilize it for corn as well.”

There can be a problem with 30-inch rows, Balkcom says, on rolling or terraced fields. “You can’t get through with a pull-type combine on 30–inch rows — you’ve got have a self-propelled machine to do it. On flat fields and straight rows, you can get by with skinny tires and a pull-type.”

Planting dates have changed over the years, he says. “When I was growing up, we’d start planting peanuts as early as we could in April. Then, tomato spotted wilt virus caused growers to move planting to mid-May, and that became the optimum planting time for years. But it didn’t give us a long enough window for peanuts to pin down and fruit. As breeders have given us new varieties with better genetics and TSWV resistance, we’ve been able to go back to planting earlier. Under the right weather conditions, we can plant in April again, giving us a wider window for peanuts to fruit.”

For planting, Balkcom says, soil temperature should be 65 degrees at 4-inch depth for three consecutive days, with a forecast for a continuation of that.

In comparison studies of three varieties (Florida 07, Georgia 06G, and Georgia Green) by Austin Hagan, Auburn University professor of entomology and plant pathology, with April 20 and May 18 plantings, there was a statistical difference in 2010 in favor of the April planting, Balkcom says.

 “But in 2011, it was the other way around — the later planting was a bit better. You just can’t tell from year to year when is going to be the best time to plant; it’s something you can’t predict.

“But if conditions are favorable, I’d rather plant early than to plant late and shorten the window when peanuts are fruiting. You never know what kind of fall you’re going to have, whether rains will disrupt harvest or there’ll be an early cold snap and frost. I’d rather give up 200 pounds of yield by planting early than to risk losing an entire crop by planting late.”