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For peanut producer Steve Seward, crop rotation, diversity and a strong fungicide program help keep disease in check and yields consistently high.
STEVE SEWARD farms a diverse mix of crops and cattle about 25 miles north of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Ideal climate for peanuts
Mississippi’s six coastal counties provide an almost ideal environment for peanuts, thanks to ample rainfall, sandy loam soils and climate. “In the fall, our season is long enough to get the peanuts harvested in a timely manner, Seward said. “The farther north from here, weather gets to be a factor at harvest.”
The Sewards typically start planting peanuts around April 25, and hope to wrap up a month later. “Of course, it’s all weather related,” said the easy-going Seward. “We’re still planting today (May 30).”
At planting, the Sewards run a 12-row, Orthman strip-till to prepare beds on 30-inch rows, followed by a Case IH, 12-row, 30-inch planter.
They plant their peanut acres in Georgia 06G, applying a herbicide behind the planter. Georgia 06G “is hardy in terms of disease and weather pattern. They grade well, but they also yield really well,” Seward said. “The peanut industry is not quite like the soybean and corn industry where you have 50 varieties to choose from. We are limited on our varieties for now.”
After peanuts are up, the Sewards scout to determine when to start their fungicide spray schedule, typically around 45 days after emergence. The fungicide program includes Bravo or Absolute for leaf spot and Abound or Provost for white mold, applied with a John Deere 4730.
The Sewards will stay on a 14-day spray schedule “until peanuts get pretty close to harvest. In late August to early September, we’ll start checking peanuts to see how mature they are. As they get ready, we cut the fungicide off three weeks to four weeks before we dig.”
At harvest, the Sewards run two Amadas self-propelled peanut inverters, two KMC inverters, two Amadas self-propelled combines and two Colombo pull-type combines. The peanuts are delivered at 11 percent moisture to a buying point three miles away, at Wilmer, Ala., or to others in Loxley, Ala., or Atmore, Ala.
The Sewards apply enough seed, fertility and fungicide to make a 5,000-pound peanut yield. “We’ve had some fields that have yielded 5,500 pounds, but we’ve never averaged that much,” Seward said. “We’re happy with 2 tons an acre. Sometimes we do better than that, sometimes we don’t.”