What should be the ultimate goal of peanut producers in 2012? Attaining an adequate stand and, at all cost, preventing a replant situation.

“Adequate final plant stand is the ultimate goal, not maximized final plant stand,” says Scott Tubbs, University of Georgia cropping systems agronomist.

“You absolutely want to avoid replanting at all cost. This will be even more critical this year with very high seed prices.”

Peanut seed costs will definitely be higher this year, he says, and anyone who is using costs from last year in their budgeting process will be sorely mistaken.

Maximizing yield and grade, along with minimizing input costs, should be the aim of every grower, says Tubbs.

“If you’re increasing your input costs and gaining just a marginal yield gain, it obviously won’t be a benefit to you. It’s helpful to keep this in perspective.

Potential strategies for growers this year should include factors such as seeding rate, row pattern, planting conditions and seed quality, he says.

“A majority of growers will be planting Georgia-06G this year. There are approximately 650 seed per pound for a Georgia-06G peanut.

“If we were to plant at a seeding rate of five seed per foot, we’d be planting 112 pounds per acre. At six seed per foot, we’re planting 134 pounds per acre, or possibly 140 to 145 pounds per acre. At seven seed per foot, you’d be planting 156 pounds per acre,” he says.

Seed cost figures

If you’re expecting a seed price of about $1.10 per pound, you’d be planting $123 per acre at five seed per foot, says Tubbs. But if you’re expecting to pay $1.45 per pound, at seven seed per foot, that’s $227 to plant an acre of peanuts, he adds.

“To change your seeding rate by one seed per foot, you’ll have to change your budget by $24.60 per acre. If you went from six seed per foot to five seed per foot, you’d be reducing your input cost by $24.60 per acre,” he says.

At a contract price of $600 per ton, a grower would need to make an extra 82 pounds of peanuts to pay for the extra seed cost.

Going from six seed up to seven seed per foot, at $1.45 per pound, and at a contract of $600 per ton, a producer will need 108 pounds of peanuts to make up for the extra cost.

Row pattern is a consideration on seeding rate, says Tubbs.

“For single-row peanuts, you’re planting a seed at 12 inches or 1 foot of row. You’ve got six seed per foot being planted — that’s a seed every 2 inches from an adjacent seed being planted. In a twin-row pattern, we’re taking out half of those seed and moving them over to an adjacent row.

“Looking at data from 2011 trials, 85 percent of our twin-row peanuts had survived by the end of the season. Seventy-three percent of the peanut seed in single rows survived. We used the same seeding rate and the same management.”

Part of the decrease in single-row plant stands is due to plant competition, and part of it is due to the speed of the seed plate as it’s spinning, says Tubbs, adding that there will be skips whenever you plant at too rapid a speed.

“We’ve typically seen twin rows yield better than single rows,” he says. “This isn’t true in every single case, but the vast majority of the time, we’ve seen from a 200 to a 500-pounds-per-acre increase in twin rows.”

Another seeding rate test, says Tubbs, looked at plant stand versus yield, regardless of the seeding rate.

“With the single-row pattern, there’s very little difference, on average, whether we’re looking at three plants per foot or five plants per foot. But with twin rows, we see that curve leveling off at about the four and a half to five-plants-per-foot range.

Not much yield difference

“With single rows, there’s not much difference in yield, whether we’re at three or five plants. With twin rows, we’re maximizing at four and a half to five plants per foot.

“With single rows, a broader range of optimum plant stand often can be achieved with a lower seeding rate of around five seed per foot, when you’re planting high-quality seed.

“But it’s a slightly different story with the twin-row pattern. We require higher plant stands to maximize yields in order to realize the benefits of the reduced competition by spreading out those plants. We’ve actually seen that seeding rates up to seven seed per foot are required to maximize your profit potential in the twin-row pattern.”

As low as five seed per foot in single rows does have the potential to save you money in terms of seed costs, when planting high-quality seed, notes Tubbs. A seeding rate of seven seed per foot can be profitable with twin rows, but whenever you go above seven seed per foot, you usually see a leveling off of the final plant stand, he says.

As far as planting conditions, says Tubbs, whenever you drop below the 68 degrees F. range in soil temperature, you’ll definitely lose some stand due to poor germination. “I think you need a minimum of 68 degrees F., and 70 degrees is probably even better.”

The recommended average seed depth, says Tubbs, is 2.5 inches.

“That will vary according to soil texture and irrigation availability, but that’s the average. You need to be planting in adequate soil moisture, and you don’t need to be dusting in the seed because that can affect your depth of planting.

“Make sure there’s adequate soil moisture to get those plants out of the ground. This will help you maximize every seed you put into the ground.”

Tubbs says University of Georgia data also shows that for every 1 mile-per-hour increase in tractor speed going through the field, there’s almost a half plant per foot reduction in plant stand in the single-row pattern.

“That planter plate is spinning much more rapidly in single rows than in twin rows. By speeding up the tractor, you’re causing a lot more skips to occur.

“Our recommended speed is 3 miles per hour or less. I know there are situations where 3 miles per hour won’t be adequate for a lot of growers. But if you have the opportunity to slow down, and most of your acreage is already planted, you can benefit yourself in terms of plant population.”

The most costly decision you’ll have to make this year in terms of planting will be the decision to replant, says Tubbs, so you’ll want to get it right the first time, especially in a year when seed costs are so high.

“Replanting can, in some cases, more than double your planting costs. If you are planning on planting your own saved seed, please get germination tests conducted to make sure it’s good quality seed.

“In some cases, it’s not handled properly, and wasn’t grown under optimum conditions, so there could be some concerns there.

“We are doing some replant testing under different scenarios to help you determine what thresholds to use when determining whether or not to replant — whether to completely replant or to plant next to the existing stand.”

phollis@farmpress.com