SOUTHWEST REGION Peanut Profitability Award winners George, Isaac and John Guenther, Gaines County, Texas.
Five inches of rain. That’s all the Guenther brothers, Isaac, John and George, got on their Gaines County, Texas, farm in 2013. Five inches total, and only about three inches fell during the growing season; still they made their best ever overall average peanut yield—6,680 pounds per acre on 465 acres.
It took a lot of irrigation, the brothers say, but by managing other necessary inputs carefully they still produced an efficient crop, earning them the 2013 Peanut Profitability Award for the Southwest Region.
Disease pressure was minimal and required only one application of Abound. They take care of weed and grass problem with a combination of Prowl, Valor, cultivation and hoe hands. They did not need an insecticide application.
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A key to making an efficient peanut crop, they say, is to do as much of the work as they can and hire out only what’s necessary. They hoe peanuts themselves if they can’t find enough labor. They do all their own planting, plowing, digging, harvesting and mechanical work. They built their barn, dug the wells for irrigation systems, did the electrical work and built their homes.
They are accustomed to work. “Even when we were little we would pick a row and hoe it out,” says John, 27, the middle brother. “Farming is all we know, so we do all we can ourselves. We save money and it’s a lot more cost efficient.”
Rotation also helps. The three farm together as I&J Farms, working 1,500 acres of land—mostly cotton and peanuts. They average rotating peanuts every three years but sometimes available water and rotation history may stretch or shrink that interval.
They plant the bulk of their acreage to cotton, but they like peanuts. “We farm as much peanut acreage as we can,” says George, 25, the youngest brother. “We just do better with peanuts. We look at the potential to make three-bale cotton or 5,000 pounds of peanuts and think we can make the yield on peanuts easier than we can with cotton.
“I don’t know if we are better at growing peanuts or just worse at growing cotton.”
“Peanuts have traditionally been our best crop,” John adds. “It’s our money crop.”