EDITOR’S NOTE — Each summer, Farm Press, along with its co-sponsors, presents the Peanut Profitability Awards to deserving growers from each peanut-producing region who have simultaneously achieved top yields and cost efficiency over their entire operations. Since these awards are based on the previous year’s production, we thought it would be interesting to see how our 2011 honorees fared during the most recent growing season.

 

While it’s impossible to duplicate growing conditions from one year to the next, growers can stick to the production practices that work best, and that’s what south Georgia peanut producer Kreg Freeman does to maintain high yields and top quality.

Freeman, the Lower Southeast Peanut Profitability Award winner in 2011, says he stuck to his usual formula for success this past growing season — including planting on the identical date as in 2010 — but weather conditions were not as kind.

“We had a very dry year in 2011,” says Freeman, who averaged 6,626 pounds per acre in 2010. “Rainfall was very spotty in our area. While my neighbor five miles down the road was getting rain, I wasn’t getting any. But overall, it was a good crop year. We’ll make about 6,000 pounds per acre.”

There are reports, he says, of some growers in his county making 7,000 per acre in 2011.

Diseases and insect pests were not at problem levels this past season, which helped with input costs, he says, and later-planted peanuts fared better than those planted earlier.

Freeman usually sticks with a rotation consisting of about 165 acres of peanuts. He also grows corn and plants rye for winter grazing.

“We’ve got a three-year rotation, and we pretty much stick with it. We plant rye in the fall, and that also helps out with our rotation,” he says.

Freeman was especially pleased this past season with the uniformity and quality of his peanut crop, with grades in the 77 to 78 range.

All of his cropland is irrigated, and he uses IrrigatorPro for a watering schedule on both peanuts and corn. “Our soils are sandy, and even though we thought we were irrigating enough, I always wondered if we really were. It has contributed to our high peanut yields, especially during the frequent dry years,” he says.

Freeman plants the GA-06 variety on the majority of his acres and Tifguard where he has fields with a history of nematode problems. Like other growers, he laments the loss of Temik and hopes his root-knot nematode-plagued fields will hold up next year.

With peanut prices reaching record-high levels, Freeman is looking forward to another good production year in 2012.