A peanut producer’s recipe for success in 2010 includes a sound rotation program, inoculation on new or rested peanut land, proper variety selection and careful attention to details at planting time.

“Set a yield goal early and stick with a plan to achieve it,” said Chad Godsey, Oklahoma State University Extension peanut specialist.

Rotation always plays a role in top yields and grade, Godsey told participants in the Oklahoma Peanut Expo in Lone Wolf.

“Grow at least one grass crop in a three-year rotation system with peanuts,” Godsey said. “Space peanut crops two years if not three years apart.” He said cotton also makes a good rotation option.

“If a field has not been in peanuts for a year or two, an inoculant is good insurance for a small price.” He said test results indicate a “moderate but consistent yield increase” where inoculants are used. He said using the proper peanut inoculants improves nodulation.

Godsey said growers should evaluate varieties to determine the best fit for their specific field conditions. “Look at variety tests and pay attention to yield and grade. Look at the history of performance, three to four years of data, including on-farm tests.”

He recommends planting several varieties to spread risks and harvest management. “Growers do not want all their peanuts ready at the same time.”

Variety trial information is available in the 2010 Peanut Production Guide for Oklahoma or from the plant and soil sciences newsletter at the oilseeds.okstate.edu Web site.

Variety selection has changed significantly over the past few years and in 2009 Oklahoma growers planted mostly Spanish-type peanuts, replacing runner market type peanuts as the preferred option.

A survey of last year’s planting showed Spanish peanuts taking 41 percent of the acreage, followed by runners at 37 percent and Virginia types at 22 percent. “In 2008 and 2009 a lot of our runner average went back to Spanish,” Godsey said.

Selecting quality seed also helps get the crop off to a good start. “Pay attention to details at planting time.”

Planting dates vary, depending on market types. Typical range for runners is May 1 through June 15, and May 1 through May 30 for Spanish types. Those are guidelines, he said, and producers should check soil temperatures before planting peanuts. Optimum temperature for germination and seedling development is 86 F to 91 F.

“Planting should not begin until the soil temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit at a 4-inch depth for three consecutive days.”

Godsey said peanuts may work well in double-crop situations, although growers may expect a yield decrease from conventional plantings. He said a recent test compared four peanut varieties with sunflower, grain sorghum and soybeans, double-cropped behind wheat. “We planted the second crop in late June and cut costs and inputs as much as possible.”

The test looked at returns. The four Spanish peanut varieties — AT-98-99-14, Tamnut, Tamspan and ARSOK-S1 achieved returns of $284, $288, $401 and $422 per acre, respectively. Sunflower returned $97 per acre and grain sorghum brought in $81.

Soybeans, at better than $9 per bushel, also posted good returns, $376 per acre.

“Yields were not super,” Godsey said, “but I think peanuts in a double-crop situation will be a viable option. Reduced inputs, especially fungicides and herbicides, greatly increase the profit potential for peanuts planted in late June.”

He’s also looking at tillage and rotation practices, comparing reduced tillage with conventional tillage and rotation crops such as switchgrass and corn compared to continuous peanuts. Either rotation option yields better than continuous peanuts, he said.

He said tillage does not appear to have an effect on yield or grade.

email: rsmith@farmpress.com