Peanuts are about a month away from digging, and so far 2019 looks to be a good year, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Texas peanut producers planted up to 185,000 acres compared to 155,000 acres last year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Last year, Texas peanuts produced 3,100 pounds per acre on average.
Emi Kimura, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension statewide peanut specialist, Vernon, said peanut producers faced two weather-related problems last year – dry weather during the summer and wet weather at harvest.
But this year, Kimura expects average to above-average yields if conditions cooperate.
Peanut planting was delayed a week to 10 days due to wet weather in April and May. But good heat units throughout the summer have caught those fields’ maturity levels up.
Dry weather set in and drained topsoil moisture levels quickly. Kimura said planting conditions were very dry for most of Texas’ peanut-producing regions, but nearly all peanut acres are irrigated.
“Fields looked good overall, but conditions are extremely dry,” she said.
Kimura said 80-85% of topsoil moisture in peanut producing areas, including South and West Texas and the Rolling Plains was very short.
Pests and diseases
Pests and diseases have had little impact on the crop overall, she said.
Kimura said disease pressure was average to below average, but producers with a history of problems were aggressive with treatments.
“Producers with a history of diseases treated their fields four, five, six times,” she said. “Even producers who had very few disease issues sprayed, which is a good practice because diseases can get out of control quickly.”
Kimura said entomologists reported pests have been light this year as well.
Harvest is about a month away depending on the location, Kimura said. Most fields in South Texas have received enough heat units, but producers are waiting for peanuts to mature enough to dig.
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Peanuts in the Rolling Plains and West Texas are usually planted in April or May, with fields in South Texas being planted in June, Kimura said. The earlier planting in the Rolling Plains helps producers avoid early freeze.
Producers will continue to check fields for maturity until the plants show 80-90% mature peanuts to reduce yield losses. They typically dig peanuts up in certain spots in a field and check the mesocarp layer, which is the middle layer under the fleshy outer part of the pods for color indicating harvest maturity.
“Overall, the crop looks good,” she said. “We’re hoping for good yields and should see them, barring any significant problems. Hopefully we will avoid the late rains that hurt harvest last year and any early freeze. An early freeze can significantly influence peanut yields and quality.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: Temperatures were milder in some areas and in the 100s in other areas, but rain was still needed across the district. Soil moisture was short in nearly all the counties. Corn and sorghum harvests were complete. The rice crop failed this year. Cattle prices were still low, and sheep and goat prices remained good. Cotton harvest started. Cotton planted late was struggling and showing signs of heat/drought stress. Pasture conditions were steadily declining with stock tanks beginning to get low. Rangeland conditions were poor to very poor.
ROLLING PLAINS: Conditions were hot and dry across the district. Wheat producers continued to work fields in preparation for planting. Rain was needed for cotton to increase boll size and quality. Cotton fields continued to mature, and bolls were reaching the cutout stage. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to poor. Several areas reported supplemental feeding of cattle.
COASTAL BEND: Spotty rain was received in some of the reporting areas, but most areas were still experiencing short soil moisture. Rain slowed the cotton harvest a little, but it was starting to wind down. Stalk destruction and other fieldwork continued. Most first crop rice and soybean harvests were complete.
Some livestock producers were feeding hay and protein due to poor pasture conditions. Some early weaned calves were being sold at local auctions, and producers were trying to hang on to breeding stock where grazing was short. Livestock water was starting to get low, and producers were concerned about volume and muddy conditions that could cause livestock to get stuck.
EAST: Much needed rain fell over a few areas across the district, but more rainfall needed to help current conditions. Parts of Harrison County received as much as 2.5 inches of rain. Areas of Anderson County that received a little rain started seeing armyworms. Pasture and rangeland conditions were poor to good. Subsoil and topsoil were short. Sabine County received enough rain to have producers planning another cutting of hay.
Temperatures were still at or beyond 100 degrees daily. Vegetable production slowed. Livestock were doing fair to good. Wild pigs were a major problem. Armyworms and Bermuda grass stem maggots continued to be reported. Fly numbers remained high.
SOUTH PLAINS: Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels were short and very short. Peanuts and cotton were progressing. Pumpkin harvest continued for those who planted early. Sorghum harvest was in full swing, and producers were chopping corn for silage. Producers will continue to scout crops for pests and diseases as we progress. Pasture and rangeland production had fallen off due to little to no rainfall and high temperatures. Cattle were in good condition.
PANHANDLE: Conditions were hot and dry. Late-planted corn and sorghum were irrigated. Sorghum had colored throughout the district. Corn was in fair condition. Rangelands continued to mature and cure out. Temperatures lowered and the central Panhandle received a little rainfall, but still faced dry conditions. Wheat planting for fall pasture started in most areas. The subsoil and topsoil were both short. Cotton had set bolls in the northern parts of the district.
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NORTH: Soil moisture was mostly adequate to short throughout the district. Kaufman County reported over 2 inches of rainfall in parts of the county while the rest of the district remained hot and dry. Record high temperatures were reported. Counties initiated burn bans due to dry conditions. Pastures and hay meadows were showing stress from drought and heat. Ponds needed a good rain to help replenish them.
Sudans and haygrazer fields greened up after rains at the end of August and looked like they might make another cutting. Several farmers already made multiple cuttings off their Sudan patches. More hay was cut and being rolled up at the end of the reporting period, and more pastures looked ready for harvest soon. Hay production was so good this season AgriLife Extension agents were recommending producers with good hay stocks leave standing forages for grazing into winter.
Sorghum harvest was decent and should wrap up soon with yields from 2,800-5,500 pounds per acre reported. Test weights were around 56-57 pounds per bushel. Soybean harvest on early fields should begin soon. The double crop beans were in the process of putting beans in pods and looked decent. Some producers were busy planting wheat and oats for winter grazing.
Cattle were doing well with plenty of grass, and calves were making good gains. Livestock were beginning to show signs of stress from extended hot temperatures. A lot of stocker calves were shipped to the feed yard in the last few weeks.
FAR WEST: High temperatures averaged in the upper 90s with lows in the mid-60s. Scattered showers delivered 0.15-1.25 inches of rain to parts of the district. The rain benefited pastures and provided forage for livestock producers. A few small pasture fires started but were put out quickly. Cotton was starting to wilt due to hot temperatures and no rain.
Some weed issues popped up due to recent rains. Upland cotton bolls were slowly opening. Some whiteflies were reported in cotton but nothing major. Stinkbugs were no longer a problem. The pecan crop was coming along well. Alfalfa farmers continued to cut where it did not rain.
WEST CENTRAL: Conditions were hot and dry, and all areas needed rain. Some field preparation for fall planting was ongoing, but most fields needed rain in order to plow. Cotton was in mostly fair condition. Cotton was a little behind schedule due to late planting, with some beginning to set bolls and some still in full bloom.
Supplemental feeding of livestock was slowly increasing, and most livestock body conditions were slipping due to dry, low–protein pasture forages. The cattle market was active with good demand. Stocker steers weighing 300-475 pounds were $5-$10 higher per hundredweight with the rest of stockers selling steady. Stocker heifers 300-475 pounds were $5 higher per hundredweight.
SOUTHEAST: Conditions were dry despite random scattered showers. Flies were bad on cattle and the county was set up for a bad infestation of armyworms this fall. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied from excellent to very poor with fair being most common. Soil moisture levels ranged from adequate to very short with short being most common.
SOUTHWEST: Hot, dry weather continued throughout the district. No rain was reported with the exception of Caldwell County receiving trace amounts. It was not enough to stop harvest or have a negative impact on dove season. Rangeland and pasture conditions continued to decline. All row crops were harvested. Livestock and wildlife were still in fair to good condition with supplemental feeding. Rain was in the forecast.
SOUTH: The district reported hot and dry weather conditions with short to very short soil moisture levels. Pastures remained dry. Strawberry producers were planning their first plantings. Cotton harvest started in some counties and continued in others, with fields being defoliated in other parts. Peanut fields were under irrigation and continued to mature. Pasture and rangeland conditions remained poor due to a lack of rainfall and hot temperatures.
Live Oak County reported trace amounts of rain up to 3.5 inches. Jim Wells County reported trace amounts up to 3 inches. Duval County reported 1-3 inches of rain and adequate soil moisture. Starr County reported 1.5-4 inches of rain. Producers in Zapata County reported up to 5 inches of rain. Rain should improve pasture and rangeland conditions in areas that received significant amounts. The moisture should also help producers planning winter crops. All row crop harvests were complete except for about 10% of cotton.
Drought conditions were beginning to cause some struggles on ranches, especially as water tanks begin began drying out. Irrigated crop fields either for forage or vegetables or pecans were in good condition. Cotton harvest was active this past week, while other fields were being defoliated in preparation for harvest. Spinach seed bed preparation continued. Some oats were planted under irrigation, primarily for grazing later into the season.
Native rangeland and pasture conditions continued to decline due to a lack of moisture. Some supplemental feeding was reported. Cotton gins began ginning activities. Ranchers and deer breeders were supplementing livestock and wildlife. A little rain further delayed the cotton harvest and will likely affect lint quality of cotton in the field.