South Carolina peanut production has been impressive over the past few years and may have gotten a good shot-in-the-arm when 2011 contracts came out with runners in the $500-plus per ton range and Virginia types at $600-625 per ton.

Most contend the increased price structure came from a direct threat of growers taking land out of peanuts and going into cotton. Likewise, grain prices have remained fairly stable, so the peanut industry simply had to up the ante to stay competitive for acres in the Palmetto state.

Even with a higher value crop in 2011, choosing the best suited varieties will be critical as it is every year.

Speaking at the PeeDee Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Florence, S.C., Clemson University Peanut Specialist Jay Chapin notes that South Carolina growers will have a number of good variety options for both runner and Virginia-type peanuts in 2011.

Virginia-type variety options

The best prices for 2011 will come from premium Virginia-type peanuts — not anything different from past years. The options for South Carolina peanut growers are numerous — with some notable caveats.

Bailey is a recent release from Tom Isleib’s breeding program at North Carolina State University. Seed availability of Bailey will be very limited in 2011. 

“Like any variety, Bailey is not perfect, but from the grower perspective, it has the potential to be a replacement for NC-V 11. With no soil-borne disease control, in tests at the Edisto Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Blackville, S.C., Bailey out-performed the best variety we have with four soil-applied fungicides on it,” the South Carolina peanut expert says.

“That doesn’t mean we will not be using soil fungicides on Bailey — our tests show that Bailey definitely responds to soil fungicides, but where we have high white mold or CBR risk, Bailey can protect against severe loss.

“Bailey has a large bush — at times larger than any other Virginia type we grow. All the Virginia types we grow can get too rank, but Bailey makes use of guidance systems or growth regulators more important.

“Bailey is not immune to disease, growers will have to keep up with leafspot applications, but it has excellent tolerance to most soil-borne diseases that reduce yields in South Carolina,” he adds.