Peanut producers have heard a lot about new cultivars, some that will be available in the next two to three years. But for all practical purposes, only five will be available for planting this year.

“If you’re a producer, you need to focus on these five,” said University of Georgia Extension peanut specialist John Beasley during the recent Georgia Peanut Farm Show held in Albany. “Based on seed acreage in 2010, there are five cultivars that will account for 95 percent  of the acreage in the Southeast in 2011, and they include Georgia-06G, Georgia Greener, Georgia-07W, Tifguard and Florida-07,” he says.

In Georgia alone last year, 67 percent of the state’s acreage was in Georgia-06G, he adds.

So what criteria does a producer use when deciding which of these five to plant? Seed availability is a good place to start, advises Beasley.

“When a new cultivar is released, there is usually a very limited supply of seed. It typically takes two to three years after the cultivar is released to build the seed supply to an adequate level to meet producers’ demands,” he says.

On the other end of the spectrum, when an older cultivar is under less demand, seed supply dwindles. “An example of this would be Georgia Green and Georgia-02C, both of which have seen demand for seed drop dramatically the past few years. There will be very limited seed of both cultivars in 2011,” he says.

Growers obviously should compare the yields and grades of the various cultivars when deciding which one or ones to plant on their farm, says Beasley.

“Fortunately, most of the new cultivars that have been released over the past three years have a higher yield potential than Georgia Green. In the UGA Statewide Variety Trials and in small plot and on-farm large plot trials, we have seen Georgia-06G, Florida-07, Tifguard, Georgia Greener and Georgia-07W consistently out-yield Georgia Green. The grades of these cultivars, with the exception of Florida-07, have been equal to or better than Georgia Green,” says the agronomist.

Data is available to compare the five cultivars that’ll be planted this year, he says, including trials from Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Beasley recommends that growers don’t look at just one year’s data.

Disease resistance, he says, is another important trait to look for in a cultivar. “The peanut breeding programs in the Southeast have released numerous cultivars in the past 10 years with much better resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus. Resistance to leaf spots, white mold, CBR and peanut root-knot nematode now exist in one or more cultivars. Tifguard has a very high level of resistance to peanut root-knot nematode and should be planted in fields with a history or large population of this pest, says Beasley.

Growers can utilize Peanut Rx to determine a cultivar’s level of disease resistance or tolerance when comparing them to one another, he says. “This tool allows a producer to select a cultivar, or cultivars based on the expected disease problem or problems within a given field, based on expected field and environmental conditions.”

Maturity range a big factor

Maturity range also will dictate if a producer wants to select a certain cultivar, says Beasley. Currently, there is one early maturing cultivar, AT 215, but the seed supply on it will be extremely limited in 2011.

“Georgia Greener and Tifguard have what we call the ‘normal’ or medium maturity range. Under normal growing conditions in which there are no factors delaying or speeding up maturation, these cultivars are ready for harvest in 135 to 140 days after planting. Georgia-06G, Florida-07, and Georgia-07W all mature about seven to 10 days later than Georgia Green. Our experience with Georgia-06G is that it can mature about the same as Georgia Greener and Tifguard, or in some cases, it matures about seven to 10 days later.

“The one late maturing cultivar we currently have is Georgia-02C, but seed supply will be very limited in 2011. It typically takes two to three weeks later to mature than Georgia Green or Georgia Greener. It is recommended that growers do not plant Georgia-02C after May 15.”

Another factor that might have a bearing on cultivar selection is seed size, says Beasley. Several of the new cultivar releases have considerably larger seed size than Georgia Green. These cultivars include Georgia-06G, Florida-07, Tifguard and Georgia-07W.

Their seed size results in it taking 30 or more pounds per acre to plant when sown at the same seed per foot of row rate as Georgia Green, he says.

“For example, when planting Georgia Green at six seed per foot of row, it typically requires 105 to 110 pounds per acre. At the same six seed per foot of row rate, Georgia-06G, Tifguard, Georgia-07W and Florida-07 will end up planting 135 to 140-plus pounds per acre. At approximately 75 cents per pound for seed, it costs about $20 to $25 more per acre to plant large-seeded runner cultivars than Georgia Green.

“Georgia Greener and Georgia-02C have what we refer to as ‘medium’ size seed, similar to what the Florunner cultivar had and planting those at six seed per foot of row will result in planting about 120 to 125 pounds per acre or about 10 to 15 pounds per acre more than Georgia Green.”

Marketability doesn’t seem to be an issue with any of the available cultivars, says Beasley.

phollis@farmpress.com