What is in this article?:
- On the Selfs' Mississippi farm, it's wall-to-wall peanuts this year
- Irrigation becoming a necessity
- Weed control program
- Peanut Board programs
“We’re all peanuts this year,” says Hamilton, Miss., producer Don Self, who is also Mississippi's representative on the National Peanut Board. “Even though we rotate religiously between cotton, corn, and peanuts, the $750 per ton contract price at the start of the season was just too good not to take advantage of this year."
DON SELF, from left, wife Lisa, father Dennis, and son-in-law Hank Harrington were among the first to grow peanuts in northeast Mississippi. An attractive early-season contract led them to plant the crop on all their acreage this year.
Irrigation becoming a necessity
To further boost production potential on their farm, particularly for corn, Don says, “Our goal is to have 75 percent of our crop land irrigated within the next five years. With our changing weather, it has become apparent that irrigation is going to be a necessity for consistent crop production, particularly with corn.
“We have two center pivots now that can water 180 acres, and we’re going to build a big lake in a low-lying area to provide additional water for irrigation. We’ll add more center pivots, and probably less than 20 percent of the irrigated land will be furrow.”
They’re also in the process of converting some of their timber acreage to cropland. “We’ve just cut about 120 acres of mostly hardwoods, and we’re clearing some other areas that should give us another 200 or so acres. That will put us at a level that we have about as much acreage as we can handle without more labor.”
They grow GA 06G peanuts, “which is a good variety,” Don says. “In the past, we’ve grown some GA 07W, and some AT 215, a 115-120 day peanut that’s good for late planting or behind wheat. GA 09B is looking promising in trials, and I’m anxious to see this year’s data on it.”
They started planting May 2 and finished May 27, but had to replant 379 acres due to a weather phenomenon during germination that caused the peanuts to start growing the reverse of normal (see article, "When down becomes up: How 379 acres of peanuts got confused").
At mid-July, following 3 inches of rain, Don says all the peanuts were looking good.
“The 95 to 100-plus temperatures we had in late June/early July are hard on peanuts, but the rains since then have been great. If we can just get a couple of more good rains going through the season, we should have a good crop.
“Because peanuts are relatively new in this area, as a general rule we don’t have the disease pressures that they have in south Mississippi, or in the southeastern states, where they’ve grown peanuts for years and can make eight or more fungicide applications in a season.
“We made our first application of Provost fungicide in July. We may have to make one or two more, depending on the rains we get. We could have a touch of white mold here and there, but so far we’ve been able to control it.
“We’ve had a bit of leaf scorch from the very hot weather earlier, but the rains and more moderate temperatures seem to have taken care of that. We’ve had a few cutworms, but nothing that we’ve needed to spray — if we do, Ammo takes care of them. Three or four years ago, we had to spray for some three-cornered alfalfahoppers, and we’ll have occasional armyworms, but usually not enough to warrant spraying.
“Peanuts need boron, and we apply Solubor at 3 lbs. per acre when we apply the fungicide.”
This year, Don says, they deep-tilled all their land to 10-12 inches with a five-bottom switch plow. “Over the years, with cotton and soybeans, we’d moved away from deep tillage, but in our present rotation, I believe it helps with diseases and weeds by turning under old cornstalks and debris. It has also made the ground more mellow, which makes it easier for peanuts to peg into the soil.
“Our plan is to deep-till one-third of our acreage every year. We think the benefits will outweigh the fuel and other costs.”
Thus far, he says, they’ve had no resistant weeds on their land. “We run a very tight weed control program, and we’re on the lookout for any escapes; we don’t leave any weeds in the field to go to seed. We also make sure that any equipment that comes on our farm has been properly sanitized; I think a lot of weed problems start from seed brought in on equipment.