Certainly the rain that fell late this winter has helped replenish the ground water and has refilled ponds that have been dry or nearly dry for some time. For the first time in months, the Florida Panhandle has moved out of the severe drought category on the drought monitor.
Although this is very encouring, the forecast last released on March 15 calls for persitent drought to continue in our region.
Since this is the case, moisture at planting may be very important again this year. With the tomato spotted wilt virus resistance built into our new peanut varieities planting in late April is more feasible. If this forecast holds true, then it may be esential that we get all of our crops planted before the end of May to get them off to a good start this year.
Dr. John Beasley, UGA Peanut Extension Specialist, said that, “Farmers may want to consider planting more of their acreage earlier, especially in late April. We don’t need to plant the entire peanut crop in April (that would not work) but we need to get back to planting 25-33% of our acreage in April, provided the soil temperature is warm enough. We need to wait until the four-inch soil temperature is 70 degrees instead of 65 degrees. We get quicker germination and a higher germination rate at 70 compared to 65 in some preliminary research. Producers need to be prepared to plant peanuts as soon after April 15th as possible, provided soils warm up adequately.
Judging by how soil temperatures are climbing as measured by our local weather station at the research center, hitting the 70 degree mark in April should not be a problem.
Dr. Beasely also feels that, “We are losing too much yield and grade, and ultimately, too much money, by planting peanut acreage well into June. For five of the past seven Octobers, we’ve had cold enough minimum temperatures by October 20th to shut down pod maturation. This has cut into yield and grade potential. In fact, some of the data from Dr. Wilson Faircloth’s research when he was at the National Peanut Research Lab showed we gain as much as 30% of final yield potential during the last 3 weeks of maturity.”