Across the peanut belt, peanuts are planted during April and May. Farmers only plant after the soil has been tested, they've applied proper fertilizer and the temperature is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Peanuts must be planted in rich, debri-free seed beds to prevent and control diseases. After the seeds are planted, they grow with a large root system and after two weeks, the stem will crack through the soil and foliage unfolds. Fields are monitored daily for problems, insects and signs of disease.
One thing we do with peanuts is to prescribe a fungicide program, Peanut RX, where you look at the risk factors. The point is to reduce the amount of fungicide you use. The typical spray program was about seven sprays a year and I have reduced that down to four to five, depending on the season. You can see the savings in both time, money, and I assume it is better for the environment if you don't have to use the fungicides.
For a number of years, we have been monitoring our crops closer; we have been scouting our crops closer. Certainly we don't want to spray for insects if there aren't enough insects out there to justify a spray, both from an environmental standpoint and financial standpoint. And also, you can build up resistance of pests by over spraying. Same things applies to a lot of the chemicals you spray out there, fungicides and all, trying to time those at the appropriate time and there are many advances in sprayer technique in spray nozzles, that put out drops in different size where they don't drift as bad in the wind; where they target the area better, and so we are doing much better now than were at one time. And we are about as efficient as we can be and we aren't using any pesticides that we don't have to use.
Not only are farmers looking at safer chemicals to spray on their crops and a way to cut down the amount of sprays each season, water conservation is another major concern. To learn more about the vital role of water conservation, tune in to next weeks' Go Green.