For seeding rate, he says, “6 seed per row foot has been standard since we started having problems with tomato spotted wilt virus. This was enough to insure a good stand and eliminate skips. Now that we have varieties with more resistance, I’ve seen cutbacks to 5 seed per row foot on 36-inch rows.

“But I don’t want to make a blanket statement to plant just 5 seeds — it depends on planting conditions. You want to have adequate moisture and good soil-to-seed contact; if not, you may want to plant more seed. For April planting, I’m not too prone to cut back on seeding rate; I want to be sure and have enough seed to get a good stand. If you’re planting end of May or early June, you could definitely cut back.”

In recent years, Balkcom says, irrigated growers have been planting some of the new varieties at lower seeding rates, and there was no statistical yield difference between 2, 4, 5, or 6 seed per row foot in irrigated tests. “Irrigation will cover up a lot of mistakes. We are seeing some differences with dryland peanuts, however, and if you drop the seeding rate too low you could get in trouble.”

Weed control should get close attention, Balkcom says. “I know farmers are busy — but if you plant something, you need to be prepared to take care of it. You may say at planting that you’re going to come back and spray with a big sprayer that can cover a lot of ground, but sometimes you’re not able to get it done, and you end up with a tremendous mess.

“Also, I often see herbicide injury where big sprayers overlap too much or the pressure was wrong. Often times they stop leaving a lot in the tank and it settles out.  So when they restart they have a higher concentrated spray volume resulting in herbicide damage.  We seem to do a better job of herbicide application, and get it done in a timely fashion, if we apply these materials when we’re planting. My advice: keep the spray rig on your planter.”

Researchers are continuing work with a growing degree day model to determine peanut maturity, Balkcom says.

“We’re hoping this will allow us to do away with the pod blast method, which is more time-consuming and more work. It’s much easier to calculate growing degree days, and you’ll get the best returns when you harvest your peanuts at full maturity. When you look at dollar value on a per point basis in the grading system, it’s certainly well worth it.”

Balkcom says he received “a lot of calls from Mississippi and Arkansas growers last year wanting to know how many acres they can cover with a certain piece of equipment. “Every situation is different, but I generally tell them that with a 6-row digger you can average 36 acres per day. Sometimes you can get a lot more than that, but other days you may spend most of your time just changing plows because the ground is so hard. A good figure is 500 acres per season for one 6-row digger.

“For one 6-row picker, you can figure 22-25 acres per day, or 350 acres per season. For 1,000 acres, you’d probably need three pickers and two diggers to handle the peanuts in a timely fashion.”


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