Texas peanut farmers soon can look for a little payback from investments they’ve made to the Texas Peanut Producers Board through check off dollars.

Charles Simpson, a Texas A&M Peanut breeder at Stephenville, along with breeders Mark Burow, Mark Black and Michael Baring, have a number of peanut varieties under study, some of which could be available within two years. Researchers are looking for varieties with better qualities for consumers as well as improving efficiency for producers. Better resistance or tolerance to disease, nematodes and insects, along with high oleic acid content, which improves value to consumers, tops the list of qualities breeders screen for.

“We’re testing runner lines with nematode resistance and high OL genes incorporated into TSWV (tomato spotted wilt virus) resistant lines,” Simpson says. “We’re at least a year away from identifying a line for release.” “We are testing runner lines which have superior Sclerotinia resistance and high OL. We’re probably three years away from identifying a line for potential release.”

He says runner lines with Sclerotinia resistance, high OL, and TSWV resistance may be a year away from identification for release. They are looking at Spanish varieties as well. High OL content is a key but lines also should have disease resistance. These are one to two years off, Simpson says. “We are testing several large seeded Spanish lines that have the disease resistance package and high OL. A line for release is probably one year away.”

Breeders are also developing lines with early maturity, multiple disease resistance, leafspot resistance and other traits. “No target date has been established for possible release of any of these materials.”

Research efforts, says Texas Peanut Producers Board Executive Director Shelly Nutt, have been a boon to growers. “Our peanut breeders are incredible,” Nutt says. “With the partnerships of Texas Peanut Producers Board, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University and National Peanut Board, our breeding program should remain strong and well supported. “Our growers are also incredible because they support this program with their hard earned dollars.”

Nutt says the combination makes a “great team and we’re producing some great results.” Efforts to develop new varieties that improve production efficiency are not new, Simpson says. “We have a long list of varieties we’ve released, thanks in part to assistance from the Texas Peanut Producers Board.”

Those varieties and each variety’s best characteristics, estimated contribution, and where they are now, include: v · Tamnut 74 (Spanish). Released in 1974. This variety was actually developed before TPPB, but was tested and evaluated with the aid of TPPB funds. It was 7.5 percent higher yielding than other Spanish varieties being grown at the time. It had very uniform seed size and shape. Estimated contribution to Texas Peanut Farmers over its lifetime of production — $4.8 million more income than without the variety. It is no longer grown.

· Toalson (Spanish). Released in 1979. Again, this variety was bred and selected prior to TPPB, but was tested and evaluated with partial support from the board. Toalson had excellent pod rot resistance, was higher yielding than Tamnut 74 by two to three percent, and scientists later learned it was highly resistant to Sclerotinia and was the source for the resistance genes transferred to present day Sclerotinia resistant varieties. Toalson was never grown on a large number of acres because it had a thick shell and did not grade well. Also, it was released in the heyday of Florunner, and it yield was a good 15 percent lower than Florunner. Toalson is no longer grown.

· Langley (Runner) was released in 1986. Langley was bred, selected, tested and evaluated with the aid of TPPB funds. Its primary advantage was that it was about 10 days earlier in maturity than Florunner. However, after Sclerotinia arrived in Texas, (unfortunately, after release) breeders learned that it was ultra-susceptible to Sclerotinia. Langley was never grown on more than the first seed increase acreage because of its susceptibility to Sclerotinia. However, it is still being used as a source of early maturity genes in the breeding program.

· Tamrun 88 (runner). This variety was released in 1988. Tamrun 88 was bred, selected, tested, and evaluated with the help of TPPB funds. It had about 3 percent higher yield than Florunner, graded 2 to 3 points higher than Florunner in most locations, and had a vigorous seedling growth stage. Seedlings would emerge from one to four days earlier than Florunner. Unfortunately, the variety is ultra susceptible to tomato spotted wilt virus. The variety was grown on many thousands of acres in South Texas before TSWV, and continued in West Texas until the high OL, Flavor Runner 458 came on the scene. Estimate on contribution to farmer income in Texas over the life of the variety is $35 million. Breeders still use T-88 in the breeding program in hopes of utilizing the genes for seedling vigor. Tamrun 88 is no longer grown.

· Tamspan 90 (Spanish). This variety was released in 1990 because it was at least six percent higher yielding than most other Spanish peanuts and as a pod rot resistant variety with excellent Sclerotinia resistance. After release researchers learned that it has a moderate level of tolerance to tomato spotted wilt. Tamspan 90 was bred, selected, tested, and evaluated with partial funding from TPPB. The variety continues to be grown on thousands of acres and estimate on increased farmer income by using the variety is $25 million. The variety is still grown (Estimated acreage in 2003 is 41,000, according to Dr. Mark Black). Texas breeders continue to use Tamspan 90 as a parent for a source of yield genes as well as genes for Sclerotinia, pod rot, and TSWV resistance.

· Tamrun 96 (runner). The variety was released in 1996 and was developed with the aid of TPPB funding. T-96 has excellent tolerance to pod rot and tomato spotted wilt virus; it has moderate tolerance to Sclerotinia and southern blight; it has some drought tolerance. The source of most of these disease tolerances came from a peanut Simpson collected in Brazil in 1979. The variety has been grown on many thousands of acres in Texas and Oklahoma since 1998. Estimated acreage in 2004 was 21,700 says Black.) Estimated contribution to increased peanut farmer income attributable to this variety is about $35 million in Texas and maybe $40 million in Oklahoma. Breeders continue to use Tamrun 96 as a source of yield and resistance genes.

· Tamrun 98 (runner). This variety was released in 1998 as a variety highly resistant to Sclerotinia blight. The variety was developed with significant funding from the TPPB. Under heavy Sclerotinia pressure Tamrun 98 is near 50 percent higher yielding than Florunner/Flavor Runner 458 and 10 to 20 percent higher than Tamrun 96. Tamrun 98 never did become accepted in the industry because of its lack of TSWV resistance and the fact that Tamrun 96 has some tolerance to Sclerotinia under light to moderate disease pressure. Tamrun 98 was tested in Virginia for resistance to CBR and it was the most resistant line in their tests.

· COAN (runner). This variety was developed, tested, and released in 1999, with major funding from TPPB. COAN has excellent resistance to root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne arenaria). Breeders transferred a nematode resistance gene out of a wild peanut into Florunner. Under heavy nematode pressure COAN out-yielded Florunner by 50 percent and Tamrun 96 by 43 percent. COAN had very small plant size and, did not yield high enough in the deep sugar sand where nematodes reproduce so well in Central Texas. Also, lack of TSWV resistance hindered the variety. COAN was only grown on a few hundred acres and never made a significant dollar contribution to Texas peanut farmers.

· NemaTAM (runner). NemaTAM was developed, tested, and released in 2001, with partial TPPB funding. NemaTAM, like COAN, contains a nematode resistance gene transferred from a wild peanut. NemaTAM is equal to Florunner in yield without nematode pressure, but will yield 130 percent higher than Florunner under heavy nematode pressure. Scientists have had great difficulty in getting NemaTAM seed increased and into use by peanut growers. At least two major weather related setbacks and an industry mistake in sending 100,000 pounds of seed to the edible market have prevented significant acres of NemaTAM from being planted. Sufficient seed may be available in 2007 to satisfy farmer wishes to plant the variety. If 20,000 acres were planted in nematode infested soil, with a normal production year, an increase in farmer income could approach $10 million per year.

· OLin (Spanish). OLin was developed with major assistance from TPPB (with some funding from the Oklahoma Peanut Commission). The variety is mostly Tamspan 90, with much of the disease resistance package of T-90, but containing genes for high OL. OLin has an OL ratio of about 24:1 when grown in Central and South Texas. The OL ratio may be a few points lower when OLin is grown in West Texas. Maturity is about equal to Tamspan 90, but yield averages have been near 10 percent lower in most tests in West Texas. However, OLin has yielded well above 5,000 lbs per acre in many test locations in West Texas, and seed increases in West Texas have yielded near 4,500 pounds per acre. Breeders had some problems getting the seed multiplied for OLin, but significant quantities should be available in 2006. Value to growers is difficult to assess at this stage. Early maturity (relative to runners) can be important in West Texas.

· Tamrun OL 01 (runner). This variety was developed with major TPPB funding and some help from the Oklahoma Peanut Commission. Tamrun OL 01 was released in 2001 as a progeny of a cross with the high OL parent and Tamrun 96. It has high OL, and Tamrun OL 01 has some of the disease tolerance traits of Tamrun 96, although not as intense as T-96. However, Tamrun OL 01 has a relatively higher tolerance to Sclerotinia than does Flavor Runner 458. Tamrun OL 01 has a higher sugar content than most peanut varieties. Tamrun OL 01 was grown on approximately 28,500 acres in 2004, according to Blacks data. Estimates indicate advantages would translate into almost $4 million in increased farmer income over other varieties in 2004. That’s more than four times the amount TPPB has put into the project for developing high OL peanuts.

· Tamrun OL 02 (runner). This variety was also developed, tested, and released with significant TPPB support and some help from the Oklahoma Peanut Commission. It was released in 2002 and followed release of Tamrun OL 01 so quickly because it corrected two major deficiencies of Tamrun OL 01. These were:

1. Seed size of Tamrun OL 02 is much smaller than Tamrun OL 01, and more in line with other runner varieties such as Tamrun 96. 2. The sugar content of Tamrun OL 02 is much lower than Tamrun OL 01. Again, it is more in line with other runner varieties grown in Texas, and lower percent sugar than Flavor Runner 458 when grown in West Texas. Tamrun OL 02 has some of the disease tolerance traits of Tamrun 96, and should perform superior to Flavor Runner 458 in South and West Texas. If Tamrun OL 02 displaces much of the acres planted to Flavor Runner 458, as it should, grower income could be enhanced by several million dollars per year.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com