The advent of new, improved peanut cultivars is prompting Extension specialists to encourage growers to plant more of their crop in April, something that was unheard of just a few years ago.

“About a dozen years ago, we were standing up here telling you that you needed to delay your planting at least until the first of May or later to help reduce the incidence of tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), even with Georgia Green, which had better resistance to TSWV than previous cultivars,” says John Beasley, University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist.

But that recommendation has changed, Beasley told growers at the recent Georgia Peanut Farm Show held in Albany.

“We hammered that point home, year after year. Before the onset of TSWV, we were planting 25 to up to 40 percent some years in the month of April, and finishing up by about May 25. When we starting seeing pressure from TSWV, we were planting less than 5 percent of our acreage in April, and maybe 70 percent into May and into the remainder of June.

“It created some severe logistical problems for growers as far as timing their harvest before threatening colder weather,” says Beasley.

A high percentage of the crop — up to 78 percent — was coming in during a narrow window at buying points, creating a lot of nightmares, he says.

“At first, we were concerned about planting more of our peanut acreage in April. But looking at the data, with the outstanding cultivars we now have available, and considering that they have much better resistance to TSWV than Georgia Green, growers now have the flexibility to go back and plant earlier,” he says.