What is in this article?:
- Kreg Freeman: Peanut Profitability winner for Lower Southeast Region
- Third-generation farmer
- New weed control approach
Kreg Freeman’s high yields and efficient operation have earned him the honor of being the 2011 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award winner for the Lower Southeast Region.
While he isn’t sure it saves him money, he uses his own equipment for drying peanuts.
Freeman has been farming on his own since 1981, when his father passed away. “I’ve been farming since I was old enough to work, but I started having to make all of the decisions at that time. I’m a third-generation farmer. My daddy grew peanuts and was a yield winner in the 1970s,” he says.
Freeman says he’s not doing anything different from other farmers. “We just try and make it all come together, and if everything falls into place, it’ll come out right. In some years, everything clicks, and in some years, it doesn’t.”
He also grows corn and plants rye for winter grazing.
“I never grew any cotton because I would have had to rearrange everything we were doing. We already had the equipment set up for our current rotation, so we just stuck with it. We would have had to drop something if we were going to grow cotton,” says Freeman.
All of the land owned by Freeman is in one location. Over the years, he says, his father bought land as it became available and added on to the size of the farm.
“I stick with the same acres each year,” he says. “And even when the price fluctuates, I don’t change my acreage. We’ve got a three-year rotation, and I stick with about 165 acres of peanuts. We plant rye in the fall, and that also helps out with our rotation.”
All of Freeman’s cropland is irrigated, and in dry years, he has had to feed cows.
“We’ve got silos, and if I didn’t have feed put up, I probably would have had to sell cows because it has been so dry. I wouldn’t start farming without irrigation. Several years ago, I started using IrrigatorPro for scheduling irrigation on peanuts, and we also use the program for corn.
“Our soils are sandy, and even though we thought we were irrigating enough, I always wondered if we really were. IrrigatorPro gives us a heads-up on how fast our soil moisture is being depleted. It has contributed to our high peanut yields, especially last year when it was really dry.”
Freeman runs all center pivots, with groundwater sources. He plants the Tifguard and GA-06 cultivars.
“One of the main pests for us is nematodes. They can be the difference between making 1 ton per acre and 3 tons per acre. I’ve grown Tifguard for two years now and have been well pleased with it. I don’t think it would work in all soil types because it has smaller stems than GA-06. In a light, sandy soil like we have, even in a wet year, you can dig them without any problems.”
He also uses Telone for nematodes, and like other growers, he doesn’t like the idea of losing Temik. “We came back with 10 pounds of Temik last year at pegging, and that plan worked well. I have enough Temik for this year, but next year, I might have to depend totally on Tifguard. I’ve always liked the idea of a little extra insurance.”
Freeman plants whenever the Peanut Rx disease risk index recommends, usually around May 20, in twin rows.
“We had tomato spotted wilt virus so bad on one farm that Georgia Green had just about played out. We planted the GA-03 variety, but they didn’t grade as well. With GA-06, I’ve had grades as high as 81.”
For peanut disease control, Freeman starts with Bravo and sulfur. He uses a seven-spray program, starting with Folicur on the third spray.
“This program works well for us. Folicur by itself won’t cure leafspot. If the weather gets wet, we narrow the two-week intervals between spraying, maybe to 10 to 12 days.”