T.E. Moye Jr. of Newton, Ga., says there isn’t just one key to efficient peanut production, but rather it’s a combination of several things. This approach is what helped to earn him the 2009 Peanut Profitability Award for the Lower Southeast, including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida.
“We look at our yield goals and then figure out the least amount of inputs we can use to achieve those goals,” says Moye.
“We try to gross $1,000 per acre, so we don’t skimp on the things that’ll make us money. If possible, and if the weather conditions allow, we’ll stretch our fungicide applications, but we never jeopardize our yield. We also hold onto our equipment as long as we can and keep it maintained. That’s how we approach everything on the farm.”
Moye normally grows about 300 acres of peanuts on his southwest Georgia farm, but he dropped his acreage down to about 250 acres this year because of prices at planting. In addition, he grows corn and raises cattle.
“Cattle is a crop for us. They generate income just like peanuts. We run cattle on Tif-9 bahiagrass or Tif-8 bermudagrass,” says Moye. “We try to grow three crops in between peanuts. Last year, we had 100 acres of dryland peanuts with a six-year rotation. Rotation is a real key for us.”
Those 100 dryland acres were the big surprise of last year’s crop, he says. “They averaged 4,600 to 4,700 pounds per acre. But I’ll have to give that peanut crop to the Good Lord. We received 10 inches of rain in August from Tropical Storm Fay. It must have set a crop.
“We gathered during the last part of October. We thought they’d make about a ton, and consultants thought we had lost the crop, but it was outstanding, and it graded well,” says Moye.
While he likes to rotate cotton, corn and peanuts, he’s not growing cotton this year due to price considerations. “We’re growing more corn — about 800 acres — and in addition to the peanuts, we’re growing about 100 acres of wheat and 50 acres of oats. The oats are a good feed for the cows,” he says.
Moye, who has been growing peanuts for 29 years, tries to start planting about May 10. He had to replant about 300 acres of corn this year because the first planting was drowned out.
“Our moisture situation for planting peanuts was better this year than it has been in several years,” he says. “We usually run into trouble planting dryland peanuts because of the lack of moisture, but we’ll get them up this year.”
He attempts to follow Peanut Rx as much as possible for planting and fungicide applications, but his dryland acreage causes him to deviate from the program on occasion.
“If I have moisture, and it’s close to the recommended planting date, I go ahead and plant and hope to have enough moisture in the ground to activate the nematicide. The key is to get the plant out of the ground in healthy shape,” says Moye, who usually irrigates about two-thirds of his peanut acreage with center pivots.
He makes his first fungicide application fairly quickly, about five weeks after planting. “If it’s really dry, we’ll go three weeks between fungicide sprays. It it’s really wet, we’ll cut it down to 10 days. The normal interval is two weeks,” he says.
One of Moye’s keys to efficiency is keeping his equipment costs to a minimum. “Our planter is 20 years old, but we keep our equipment well maintained. That planter is just as good as a new one.”
Georgia Green has been a good peanut variety for a long time, he says, but he has been pleased with the performance of newer ones such as GA-06 and FLA-07. “I think GA-06 may be the variety to beat in the future. We planted Georgia Green, GA-06 and FLA-07 last year and there was very little difference in yield. GA-06 graded better and was at least a week earlier,” says Moye.
As for irrigation, Moye tries to hold off watering until after about July 4. When he does, he puts on about 2 inches per week. For disease control, he begins his program with Tilt/Bravo two times and then Moncut/Bravo two times and Abound one time. On dryland peanuts, he applies Moncut one time.
For insects, Moye goes with Temik and Lorsban followed by Consero. This past year, he applied Steward one time for worms. “We’ll let worms eat for a long time before we spray. We’ll try to let them cycle out because it can get very expensive spraying for worms.”
When peanuts first emerge, he uses 2,4-DB and Gramoxone. He also uses Storm and Basagran on part of his acreage and Cadre on the irrigated land. “We don’t grow a lot of cotton, and we rotate our crops enough so we can control pigweed. We use enough of the yellow herbicides we don’t have much trouble,” he says.
Moye plants about six seed per foot of row. “With these big peanuts, that’s about 150 pounds of peanut seed, and GA-06 and FLA-07 are big seed, bigger than Georgia Green.”
Moye says he does see pressure from tomato spotted wilt virus, but some years are worse than others. “If it rains only about a half inch, and the peanuts come right up and come up healthy, we don’t have much of a problem with tomato spotted wilt. If the peanuts are stressed when they’re trying to come up, the virus seems to do more damage.”
When harvest time comes, Moye tries to pick about 25 acres of peanuts per day. He’s a strong believer in using the hull-scrape method to determine optimum maturity. “When peanuts get to be about 130 days old, we’ll start doing the hull-scrape every four or five days. There aren’t many days difference between a 72 grade and a 76 or 78 grade, but it can make a big difference in the end.”
It’s important, he says, to maintain quality in the peanut crop. “We really stress quality in our operation. You have to keep the weeds out to have a clean crop. If you don’t do a good job of digging and harvesting, you’ll have a lot of splits and LSKs.”
Too many peanuts were produced last year, and the pipelines are full, but most growers, including Moye, are cutting back in 2009.
“I’m not sure there will be a lot of money in peanuts this year,” he says. “If there is, the only way to do it will be to produce some high yields.”
Moye and his wife Evera have two daughters and two granddaughters.