South Carolina peanut producers will soon have a new variety to add to their portfolios.
The variety is Walton and during the recent Peanut and Row Crop Field Day held at Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center, Extension peanut specialist Dan Anco said the Walton variety is comparable with Bailey II. Because of its exceptional disease resistance and consistently high yield, Bailey varieties have been the standard for Virginia-type peanut production in South Carolina.
“Walton is a Virginia-type peanut with high oleic content,” Anco said. “It has excellent pod yield and grade. It yields well in both well-watered and drought-stressed soils. This variety also has a high oleic chemistry that is consistent across environments.”
Oleic acids are healthy fats. High levels of oleic acid are desirable for both improved shelf life and potential health benefits. Seed for commercial production of the Walton variety is expected to become available in 2021.
Participants also learned from Hehe Wang, Clemson plant bacteriologist and pathologist, about new options to control peanut diseases. These diseases include late leaf spot and white mold.
“Pathogens that cause these diseases can survive in the soil for many years,” Wang said. “Growers should start early to prevent inoculum buildup during the growing season.”
Wang also said all peanut seed should be treated with a fungicide to reduce the incidence of seed‐transmitted and soil-borne seedling diseases. Seed treatments are effective in reducing seedling disease and protecting stand counts.
For organic growers, Wang said local beneficial bacteria can be used to control late leaf spot and white mold.
Agriculture technologies and more
Also during the field day, Clemson researchers discussed various online tools they are creating to keep South Carolina farming in the forefront of technology and produce profitable crops.
These electronic aids include information-based production technologies such as the South Carolina Irrigation Scheduling Tool, developed by Clemson irrigation specialist Jose Payero.
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“In the old days, we used a checkbook method where we determined water-in and water-out to get a balance,” Payero said. “This new tool uses weather data and other information to determine how much water is needed and when it is needed.”
Researchers also are developing yield monitors to help producers maximize their profits. Kendall Kirk, a Clemson agricultural engineer, has helped develop a yield monitor to use on Amadas combines. This monitor provides a more accurate measure of peanut harvests by weighing each load.
“Just as other farmers, peanut farmers have to truck their crops from their farms to buyers,” Kirk said. “If they exceed the gross vehicle weight allowance, they face the possibility of being fined by the South Carolina Department of Transportation. On the other hand, if a load is less than the allowed weight, farmers have to make more trips to deliver their product, which decreases their profits.”
Yield is the driving factor in many management decisions, but if excessive seed costs reduce profits, alternative planting strategies may be a better option for producers. Because peanuts are a major crop in South Carolina, Clemson precision agriculture Extension Specialist Michael Plumblee is researching ways to determine how to make peanuts more profitable. He is using the Directed Rx method to determine if variable-rate seeding is profitable for peanuts.
Directed Rx is a method developed by Clemson researchers that uses yield data and soil analysis data from each field to design a customized “prescription” of pest control and soil fertility management for that specific field.
Peanut seed, unlike corn, cotton and soybean, is sold by weight rather than seed count. Therefore, seed size and seeding rate can heavily influence input costs in peanut production. Variable rate seeding could help reduce seeding costs as well as increase profit.
“Variable-rate seeding in peanut has always been of interest,” Plumblee said. “Now that we have access to a yield monitor on a peanut combine and growers will soon have access to this technology, it only made sense for us to explore variable-rate seeding in peanut.”
Currently, researchers are only looking at variable rate in single row, 38-inch row spacing, but Plumblee suspects the prescription and possible outcome could change when going from single to twin rows.
Managing weeds and fertilizer
In the world of weeds, Clemson weed scientist Michael Marshall, said farmers can look forward to battling three main weeds every year. Proper application of herbicides can help relieve some of the pressure.
“Palmer amaranth, nutsedge and sicklepod continue to be challenges,” Marshall said. “This year also has been a banner year for crabgrass. The key is to apply herbicides in a timely manner.”
As for soil nutrients, Clemson soil fertility specialist Bhupinder Farmaha told participants he is working to update recommendations for soil additives, such as boron and gypsum.
“Some of these recommendations are about 30 years old,” Farmaha said. “We are in the process of researching and updating them so that they are beneficial for today’s crops and farmers.”
For other tips on successful peanut production, see the 2019 Clemson Peanut Money Maker Guide.
Byron Lee of Jackson attended the field day this year for the first time. Lee works with his family at Larke Farm.
“We’ve been having a problem with worms in our crop,” Lee said. “My uncle saw an article about this field day and suggested I attend and find out what we need to do to get rid of these worms.”
To help Lee with his worm problem, Anco suggests applying an insecticide.
“If worms are present above threshold, insecticide application can help protect the crop,” Anco said. “Some worms are easy to manage, others need more specific products, so positive identification is always helpful.”
Statistics from the National Peanut Board shows South Carolina is one of six major peanut-producing states. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, 65,000 acres of peanuts were planted in South Carolina this year. Other states noted for peanut production are: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas and North Carolina.