University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort insists that poor peanut plant stands in Georgia may not necessarily be due to seed quality.
Environmental conditions play a role, especially on peanuts planted in early to mid-April. Monfort said any soils under 68 degrees can cause problems for the seed, likely a delay in growth, which can lead to a lack of uniform plant stands in the field.
“If you plant something in the ground and the soil temperature is less than 68 degrees, it’s going to take more than two weeks to come up instead of the normal five days. With good, warm soils, 70-degree soils with good moisture, peanut plants will typically pop up in five days,” he said.
Growers tend to blame bad seed, he said, but even good seed won’t sprout in bad conditions. Poor plant stands are problems early in the season, either in late April or early May, when environmental conditions may be cool, excessively wet and generally not ideal.
Not always the culprit, poor seed quality can be addressed before planting. Monfort encourages farmers to check their seeds and make sure they are “nice, uniform-looking seed,” not shriveled or riddled with black spots and insect damage.
“Compare it (peanut seed) to a pack of roasted peanuts. Open it up and put it in your hand. If you want to eat it, it probably is good enough to plant,” he said. “It’s the same seed, one just has a seed treatment on it. The other has been processed for eating, but it’s the same quality. If you look at it and say, ‘Good night! I wouldn’t want to eat that,’ then in all reality, it’s probably not that great of a seed.”
Once growers receive their seed for the upcoming year, Monfort is adamant that the seed should not be left out in the sun. Leaving peanut seed uncovered during the heat of the day, or otherwise unfavorable conditions, can slowly drop the germination level over time.
If growers have an issue after planting and believe replanting is the answer, Monfort recommends calling the local UGA Extension agent first for a second opinion.
“They’ll help diagnose problems and determine whether the farmer does need to replant, or if they have enough plants to suffice for a decent yield. Some people think they’ve automatically got to replant, but they don’t always have to. Peanuts tend to compensate quite a bit,” Monfort said.
Peanut planting in Georgia typically starts in the latter part of April or early May. Growers should wait for the soil temperature to reach 68 degrees or higher for three straight days before beginning planting.
To monitor soil temperature across the state, see the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network at weather.uga.edu.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)