It is the intentional but regulated use of mild stress to change plant water use. Faircloth says the concept is similar to someone getting a flu shot, which actually exposes them to a mild case of the flu. When they come in contact with the same flu virus, their body is prepared for it and knows how to fight it.

“With primed acclimation, you are exposing the plant to intentional, regulated drought stress so it changes the physiology of the plant and changes its growth habits, such as causing it to have deeper rooting,” Faircloth says.

The newest version of Irrigator Pro, the expert system developed to help producers make decisions about their operations, now includes the concept of primed acclimation as an option for irrigation management, plus many other changes.

How much benefit growers get from proper use of irrigation varies significantly from one farm to another and from one year to another.

In drought years, laced with intense heat and humidity, irrigation can make a 2,000 pound per acre difference in yield. In addition to the yield increase, having water can also significantly reduce the incidence of aflatoxin and diseases that can further cut peanut profitability.

Most growers agree that in years that are within 20 year norms in heat and rainfall, irrigation consistently increases yields by 1,000 pounds per acre.

“Irrigation is the key factor in sustaining farm incomes and minimizing weather associated risks,” Lamb says.

“We need to expand and protect irrigated acres. That’s why programs such as the Alabama Irrigation Initiative (and similar programs) are vital to our future.”