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"I didn’t know the first thing about growing peanuts," says northeast Mississippi producer Greg Norton. "But in 2008, I decided to give them a try for the rotational benefit — plus, it looked like a potentially profitable crop. Some have said we’re too far north for peanuts, but the last two years we had record yields for both peanuts and our main crop, cotton. In 2011, we averaged 5,000 pounds of peanuts and 950 pounds of cotton. In 2012, for the first time ever, we averaged over 1,000 pounds of cotton, had another 5,000-pound year for peanuts — and got good prices for both."
GREG NORTON added peanuts to his northeast Mississippi cotton operation in 2008 and says the crop has been profitable, as well as offering rotation benefits.
Two years of record yields
“The last two years, we had record yields for both cotton and peanuts. In 2011, we averaged 5,000 pounds of peanuts and 950 pounds of cotton. In 2012, for the first time ever, we averaged over 1,000 pounds of cotton, had another 5,000-pound year for peanuts — and got good prices for both.
“When peanut prices shot up to $1,000, I had contracted 2 tons per acre at the start of the year, but the Lord blessed us with 2.5 tons, and I was able to get the top $1,000 price for the extra 130 tons. I was really happy about that!”
GA 06G is the variety Norton planted in the past, and he says, “It has performed really well. This year, I’ll split acreage 50-50 with 06G and GA 09B, a high oleic variety.
“I’ll usually start planting last week in April for cotton and peanuts around May 1, but with all the rain this spring I didn’t get to start planting anything until May 14. We got about 400 acres of cotton planted before it rained again. I usually plant cotton first, but last year it worked out best to plant peanuts first. I normally like to harvest peanuts first, but last year I had cotton falling out of the bolls and peanuts needed to mature a bit more, so I got the cotton out first.
“I’ve found you can’t have too much equipment for peanuts. We started with a 4-row KMC combine and added a new 6-row Amadas last year. We also added a 6-row KMC flex digger last year, which works really well on our terraced land. We moved to a 12-row John Deere 1770 pull-type planter, which flexes in three different sections, also an advantage on our terraced ground.
“We bought a new John Deere 8310R tractor, which we’ll use the first time this year. It is GPS-equipped, and we’ll get our feet wet with that technology also. Our sprayer is a John Deere 6700 self-propelled machine.
“We also have a Hardy 3-point hitch sprayer, which allows us to have separate sprayers for cotton and peanut chemistries — and we can spray cotton and peanuts at the same time without having to stop, clean out a sprayer, and change chemicals.”
He’s had few problems with diseases, Norton says. “I’ve had some white mold and leaf spot in peanuts, but I made only four fungicide applications last year, using Provost and Convoy, with an early application of generic tebuconazole.”
In both 2011 and 2012, he participated in the peanut verification program funded by the Mississippi Peanut Promotion Board, and this year will also have some cotton variety trials with Jimmy Sanders. Cotton varieties have been mostly Deltapine DP1137 B2RF and DP0912 B2RF, and this year he’ll also have some Phytogen 499 WRF.
With the advent of stacked gene cotton varieties, insects have not been a significant problem, Norton says. “We’ll occasionally have some stink bugs and plant bugs in cotton. We’ve had no thrips or other insect problems in peanuts yet.
“Some resistant Italian ryegrass has been documented in the county, but so far I’ve not had any and have been able to kill it with my herbicide program. We’ve had no problems with herbicicide-resistant pigweed. I rotate chemistries to try and avoid any resistance buildup, and since cotton and peanuts use different chemistries, that also helps. For cotton, I used Cotoran behind the planter, with Direx for layby.”