Some Texas peanut farmers got a jump on harvest to limit losses from leafspot infections that hit late in the growing season but still expect decent yields.
“The crop still looks good,” says Todd Baughman, Extension peanut specialist at Vernon. “A few growers are digging early because of heavy leafspot in places. We're probably close to full scale harvest anyway.”
Clint White, who farms just north of Vernon, says leafspot hurt yields a bit on some of his peanuts. He was digging his Virginia varieties in late September.
“Yields will be off a little,” he says, “but grades on peanuts we've threshed so far look good.”
He farms with his father, Dan. “Some of these early peanuts are grading 74 and 75,” he says.
Yields may be off a tad, but lower production costs may limit losses. “We watered peanuts about half as much as we usually do.”
Baughman says heavier than usual leafspot pressure resulted from unusually wet conditions through much of the growing season. “It's a good reminder that we need to maintain a good rotation program,” he says. “And growers can't take their eyes off the crop. A lot of fields had leafspot before growers could do much to control it.”
He saw a lot more disease pressure this year than usual. “Leafspot showed up mostly toward the end of the growing season. A good number of farmers sprayed on time and limited damage. Also, fungicides we use for other diseases, such as pod rot and sclerotinia, have activity on leafspot.”
Baughman says growers in West Texas occasionally have verticillium. “We have no real control option for verticillium.”
With other diseases, growers “were diligent about staying after them.”
Baughman says in spite of an unusually wet year, growers did a good job controlling weeds. “We have some good herbicides and they were more active this year with the moisture. We saw a few spots that got away from growers.”
He says weed pressure and escapes in South Texas were more troublesome. “They were even wetter in Frio and Atascosa Counties than we were in the Rolling Plains and West Texas,” he says. “They couldn't get into the fields and had more weed and disease pressure.”
Baughman says in a few cases growers could have been “a bit more diligent with disease control this year. But most did a good job of scouting. A few also waited a bit late to begin irrigation.”
He says timely rains got the crop off to a good start, delaying irrigation. “Some held off just a little too long.”
Baughman says peanuts across Texas look good as harvest nears. “Acreage is up, too, about 30,000 more than last year.”
Baughman says other crop prospects in the Rolling Plains area also look good. “Dryland cotton will be fair. Some will be late and yields may be off some. We can see stressed plants with an off-green color and wilted leaves.”
He says the milo crop was good with many farmers reporting 4,000 pound per acre yields. “We had some pretty good corn, too.”
Wheat was a mixed bag. “Overall, we'll probably make above normal yields. But some growers will still be disappointed. Some were expecting 40 or 50 bushels per acre and made 30.”
He says powdery mildew came in for about 30 days. “It's usually not a problem, but following the powdery mildew, rust hit for another 30 days, so wheat had 60 days of disease pressure instead of a typical 30 days.”
He says some wheat growers are concerned about seed supply for 2007-2008 crop planting. “Some varieties will be in short supply, but a lot of growers, especially those who wanted newer varieties, booked early.”
North Oklahoma and Kansas had a short wheat crop, which pinched the seed supply. “If they had been in better shape, our seed supply here would be a little better.”
Baughman says he hasn't seen as many wheat seed drills in fields as he would have expected. “I'm wondering at the number of cattle that might be put on grazing this fall. It's been dry, and wheat prices have been good, so farmers may be holding off to plant later for grain.”
Baughman has seen more anhydrous go out this fall than in the past few years. “We were almost out of the anhydrous business, but growers are coming back to it in a big way.”
Price differential drives the switch, he says.