What is in this article?:
- Bud Bowers is Peanut Profitability Award winner for Upper Southeast
- Irrigation makes a difference
- Moving into high-tech
- Corrin F. Bowers, Jr., known to one and all as Bud, is the 2012 Peanut Profitability winner for the Virginia-Carolina peanut-producing belt.
- He grows about 600 acres of peanuts and 1,200 acres of cotton on his farm, located about 100 miles west of Charleston, S.C.
FARMING WITH HIS SON, Corrin (shown left) has helped Bud Bowers increase peanut acreage.
Irrigation makes a difference
“I was interested in peanuts because I have irrigation,” he says. “The first year, I planted some Virginia-type peanuts under irrigation and some dryland. We made a big crop both ways, but yield was especially good under irrigation.
“In years when our dryland peanuts haven’t been especially good, we’ve found they tend to clean up the land, and we make better cotton and corn on that ground in following years.
His peanuts are grown as part of three entities. He and son Corrin have one farming operation; he also farms on his own; and he farms with long-time friend and neighbor, Mickey Ginn. Combined, Bud plants about 600 acres of peanuts annually.
In addition to peanuts, he still plants about 1,200 acres of cotton and about 200 acres of corn. The rotation, he says, has worked out well for all the crops he grows.
“We usually plant peanuts in front of cotton on our irrigated land. Sometimes there is a carryover of Cadre, which we use on peanuts, and it can affect cotton. But, irrigation tends to flush out the Cadre residue.”
Disease is a big concern for most peanut growers, but Bud says, planting peanuts on land not historically used for that crop has been a plus.
“We want to continue to keep disease pressure to a minimum, so we usually extend our peanut rotation to four years. In some fields we can plant peanuts every three years.”
This year was really tough at planting time. Despite having irrigation on about half of his land, he was delayed in planting due to an extreme lack of moisture.
Typically, he plants cotton from late April to mid-May and peanuts from early May up to May 20. This year, he couldn’t start planting cotton because the soil was too dry.
“We’re in an area where herbicide-resistant weeds are a concern,” Bud says. “We feel we have to use preplant herbicides, which need water for activation. We couldn’t afford to plant our cotton into dry soil, unless it was on irrigated land. The delay on cotton got us backed up on planting peanuts, making the whole planting season one of the most stressful in my career.”
Bud’s planting woes were compounded by the death of long-time employee and expert peanut planter/bedder Seres (Earl) Johnson.
“Earl was a really good employee, but I didn’t realize just how much I missed him until we got backed up this spring — trying to get cotton and peanuts planted in dry weather was a mess.”
Irrigation was a salvation at planting time. He has a sophisticated system of soil monitors that go back to his early days of growing irrigated cotton. The monitors can be accessed remotely by radio, telling him when to water. From a computer in his office, he can turn pivots on and off and determine whether they are running.
Over the years, irrigating peanuts has been a virtual guarantee of producing two tons or more per acre. In a recent year, his dryland peanut yields dipped to about 1,400 pounds per acre. “Typically, we average about 4,000 pounds with irrigation and 3,000 pounds per acre on dryland peanuts,” he says.