Southeastern peanut producers now have several good varieties from which to choose, but they still shouldn’t neglect the basics of crop variety selection, says Barry Tillman, University of Florida agronomist and plant breeder.

“These basics include which varieties are available, what is a variety’s disease resistance, what is its seed size, calcium requirements, growth habit and maturity,” says Tillman.

“Growth habit can factor into the type of equipment you have for digging because some varieties are more prostrate and others are more upright.”

It all begins, says Tillman, with crop rotation. “If we don’t have a good rotation program, then our varieties can’t overcome some of our disease problems. The key is good crop rotation — if you don’t do that well — nothing else really matters,” Tillman said at the recent Georgia Peanut Farm Show in Albany, Ga.

Looking at the seed available for the Southeast in 2012, Tillman says Georgia-06G is the dominant variety, followed by Georgia-07W, Florida-07, Georgia Greener and Tifguard. “These five varieties will make up all of our seed acreage in 2012,” he says.

Growers should look at several years of variety trial data and try and match the variety to specific field situations, says Tillman.

“In some cases, I’ve seen farms that have a lot of white mold, so you’d want to choose a variety that’ll minimize your risk. Also, to minimize risks, I would encourage growers to plant at least two varieties. You never know how varieties will react. We have five varieties that are very good, but some are better in certain situations than others.

“For example, if you have nematode problems in your field, Tifguard is your best choice. This is a variety that has near immunity compared to resistance, and that’s a great tool for you to use. Also, evaluate new varieties on your farm in a way that’s meaningful, such as planting them side-by-side in the same fields rather than in different fields.”

In variety trials conducted in Florida and Georgia, all of the new varieties have grouped towards the top in terms of yield potential, especially compared to the old standard Georgia Green, says Tillman, so there are plenty of options in terms of productivity.