We are slowly beginning to warm up and growers are starting to prepare land for the 2013 growing season. 

One of the questions we have all asked is “what can we expect in the way of acres this year.” This is not an easy one to answer. Based on all of the talk around the breakfast table, it sounds like we will see a 25 to 30 percent reduction in acres due to the bumper yields and over-production in 2012. 

However, the initial numbers that came out from NASS has South Carolina at 90,000 acres in 2013. This seems a little high, but who am I to know at this point. 

I am conservatively estimating our acres to be in the 70,000–75,000 range. This could change. 

So far, contracts have been offered for Virginia and Runner type peanuts with growers signing more Virginia contracts due to the prices. In talking with many of the growers in the state, it seems like only a small number of Runner contracts have been signed.

All we can hope for is that China and other countries continue to buy our 2012 peanut crop currently in storage and prices go up.

How early can I plant?

Until the last few years, it was recommended to plant no earlier than May 10 due to the threat of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV). TSWV is still a concern for us in South Carolina. However, the increase in resistance to TSWV in new varieties of both Runner and Virginia types (Bailey and SUGG) have provided growers with added protection against this virus. 

Based on research conducted at the Edisto REC, these new varieties can be planted earlier (late April/early May) without being negatively impacted by the virus as previous susceptible varieties had been.

This does not mean you do not need to use an at-plant insecticide. We still recommend an at-plant insecticide like Thimet.

Other than TSWV and resistant varieties, growers need to check soil temperatures before planting in late April/early May. It is recommended for the average 4 inch soil temperature to be 65 degrees or higher with no cold front predicted within a couple of days after planting.

Planting seed in soil with soil temperatures less than 65 degrees will only slow germination and emergence which may lead to a loss in final stand.