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Early-Season Considerations for Peanut & Cotton Production

By Michael Mulvaney
It’s only February, but it will be April before you know it. That means it is time to start planning for peanut and cotton planting season.
Variety selection
If you’re a peanut grower, you’re placing your orders for GA-06G now. Which is great – it’s a cultivar that sets a high bar for disease resistance and yield potential. You probably should continue to plant most of your acreage to GA-06G. But consider planting some acreage with other cultivars as well, just to test them out. There are a few promising cultivars on the market, such as GA-13M and GA-12Y. 12Y has excellent tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) resistance with high oleic oil, and although it may be susceptible to Rhizoctonia limb rot, it has yielded nearly as high as 06G. Consider planting smaller acreage to newer cultivars to see how premiums play out, and test if they work well in your situation.
Some growers int the area say they don’t like the high oleic cultivars, because of their reduced disease resistance, but in the end, they may yield as well as 06G, even if they don’t retain leaves as well. Be smart. Don’t let looks fool you. Keep your eyes on the ledger sheets. Even if they don’t look as good in the field, they may improve your bottom line – but you won’t know unless you try them. The key here is to start with small acreage, essentially doing your own variety testing on your farm. It really doesn’t cost that much to plant a few passes of different cultivars. Just make sure you keep records of what you planted where, and have a weigh wagon at the end of the season. Check out the reulsts from the variety and fungicide testing trials conducted in Jay for more information. (Remember that propiconazole restrictions are still in place for exported peanuts.)
The same applies to cotton cultivars. In this area, we’ve seen an increase in planting of “stovepipe” varieties that have more erect growth and lap the middles later in the season, which may reduce target spot incidence, an increasingly problematic disease in the Southeast. In some fields in west Florida, I didn’t see lapping of rows until early August last year, which may present weed control challenges, but also increase airflow in the canopy – corresponding with very low target spot incidence last year. I would encourage growers to try small acreage of different cotton cultivars to see which cultivars work best for their conditions – and let me know what works for you. Be sure to check out the 2017 cotton variety trial data, as well as previous years’ data for cotton variety selection. And again, start with small acreage first to see how cultivars respond in your microclimate and soil conditions.
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