AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Any given row crop variety is only as good as the research and information behind it. This is one of the reasons that Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University researchers thoroughly research seed varieties.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimates 48 percent of the peanut crop has been planted. This is up from 34 percent in May of 2021. While the state is not in a period of drought, conditions have become uncomfortably dry for row crop producers, especially for those planting cotton and peanuts. Although there was some welcomed rain over this past weekend (May 21 and 22), conditions are dry. Farmers and researchers alike hope for rain.
On-Farm Peanut Variety Trials
While dry conditions are unfortunate, researchers make note of weather patterns and conditions as they continue planting peanut variety trials across Alabama.
Kris Balkcom, an Alabama Extension peanut specialist, said research station and on-farm trials are important tools to help farmers determine the right variety for their location and accompanying crop pressures.
“We plant on-farm variety trials on eight farms across the state,” Balkcom said. “The same six varieties will be planted at each farm location. We can use data from the eight locations to determine how each variety responds to different soil types, weather patterns, pests and disease pressures.”
The more information researchers are able to provide, the better prepared peanut producers are to manage the crop throughout the year.
Planting Peanuts in Dry Weather
Unlike cotton producers, peanut producers will not be “dusting in” peanuts. However, Balkcom said peanut producers have an advantage in their ability to plant peanuts deep in the soil where there is still adequate moisture for germination.
“Peanuts can stay in the ground until there is adequate moisture to make a stand,” Balkcom said. “But the plants that come up later will not be as healthy and strong.”
He said the great thing about peanuts is the ability to plant where there is moisture.
“Planting has been stalled in some areas,” he said. “For example, my friends in the Tennessee Valley are waiting for a good, soaking rain. There are plenty of farmers who have prepared land and are waiting for rain. There are many producers who are still planting, though.”
Peanut Acreage Outlook
Balkcom said in a normal, high-input year, farmers tend to gravitate toward peanut production where they can apply minimal fertilizers and avoid the risk of high-priced inputs.
“This year I expect to see less peanut acreage and more cotton acreage,” Balkcom said. “With $1.20 to $1.30 cotton, producers are going to say cotton production feels like it is worth the gamble.”
Producers still have about one week to get their seed in the ground before the full-coverage crop insurance deadlines. Dates range from May 31 to June 5, with a 10-day late-planting period.
Learn more about peanut production and variety trials by visiting www.aces.edu.