What is in this article?:
- Greg Norton: Peanuts a good fit with his traditional crop, cotton
- Began farming full-time
- Two years of record yields
- Tried conventional cotton varieties
"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.
Tried conventional cotton varieties
Norton says he planted conventional cotton varieties in 2009, “thinking to save some money on tech fees. But I had to make five consecutive applications for bollworms, and that pretty much changed my outlook. If I wanted to take advantage of higher cotton prices, I needed to try and make as much yield as I could, so I went back to the stacked gene varieties. That proved a good decision when cotton topped $1 per pound.”
His cotton is ginned at Scruggs Gin, Belden, Miss., about 60 miles away, and is marketed through Staplcotn.
In years past, Norton has used poultry litter for fertilizer, “But the price has been continually going up and availability shrinking. To truck it long distances is just too expensive, so I’ve gone back to commercial fertilizer this year.
“I really like the litter, both from a fertility standpoint and adding organic matter to the soil. After just one year of using it, a zinc deficiency had been corrected and other micronutrient levels were improved. I bought a new spreader for the litter, but won’t get to use it this year. I was soil testing every year until I got fertility levels up, and now I test every three years on a rotational basis.”
Although he has grown soybeans in the past, Norton says he doesn’t foresee going back to the crop.
“Deer and drought are main reasons I’m no longer growing soybeans. The last year I had beans, 2008, I had to practically babysit them at night to keep deer from eating them up. And it was a drought year — I don’t have irrigation, and I was afraid I wouldn’t even get the yield I’d contracted. I had some bad memories of drought years and 11-bushel beans. Thankfully, some late rains turned the crop around and I had a 45-bushel average.
“Also, since soybeans are a legume crop, they don’t work well with peanuts. As long as cotton and peanuts are my main crops, I likely won’t grow any beans. I would like to add some corn into the rotation, though.”
He says he also wants to look into the possibility of drip irrigation on some of his land.
In addition to deer, Norton says wild hogs are also getting to be a problem in his area. “They’re extremely destructive, and can really mess up a peanut field.”