Freeman used Valor for weed control for the first time last year and was impressed with the results “I’ve never liked using Gramoxone in extreme heat. It takes a long time for peanuts to recover, even with irrigation. Last year, there weren’t any weeds out there for us to burn down when we used Valor. I don’t know if it was luck or if Valor was that good, but we’ll use it again this year.”

He follows Valor with Cadre.

Resistant Palmer amaranth pigweed hasn’t been a problem for Freeman yet, but he has seen it in neighboring fields. It helps, he says, that he uses atrazine on his corn crop.

In 2011, Freeman sprayed one time with Karate for insects. “In past years, we’ve had to put something in with our leafspot sprays for worms. They didn’t show up last year. With IrrigatorPro, we check thermometers every day, and we can see insect problems when they start.”

Looking ahead to the challenges facing peanut growers, Freeman says stability is the greatest need in farming today.

“We need to be able to plan ahead, and it’s hard to do that sometimes. All of agriculture is a strategic resource for this country, and it needs to be kept strong. Education efforts are falling short in agriculture, and people are starting to become out of touch.”

Freeman says producers need to continue to fund research, even in a time of tight budgets. “If it had not been for the new varieties we have now, I’d almost be debating whether or not to continue growing peanuts. Tomato spotted wilt virus had gotten very bad here. If want to continue to make progress, we can’t put the brakes on research. It’s tough times, but we need to keep it going.”

Years ago, he says, people couldn’t see the benefits of the space program, but technology like the auto-steer tractor is a direct result of this research.

“It’s one of the best pieces of equipment I’ve bought, with yield increases being at least 500 pounds per acre. If I couldn’t run it, my son could. You can get in and stay on the row. I had to buy a new tractor, but Auto-Steer paid for itself in one season.”

In addition to their son, Nolan, who will be attending college in Bainbridge in the fall, Freeman and his wife Leslie have two daughters, Haley, a student at Georgia State University, and Karlie, who is at Valdosta State University.

phollis@farmpress.com