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Peanut acreage report and a reminder for growers: Check for nodulation
Author: Travis Faske, Extension Plant Pathologist

Early season estimates indicate ~10,000 acres of runner peanut were planted in 2014 in Arkansas.  Estimates were based on grower acreage commitment to one of three peanut companies: Birdsong Peanut, Clint Williams, and Golden Peanut.  Total acreage was slightly less than projected and ~2,000 less than 2013.  The decline was related to lower peanut prices and unfavorable planting conditions in April and May.  Contract peanut prices are $475/ton for high-oleic and $450/ton for standard runner peanut, which is about $75/ton less than 2013.  Most of the acres were split between cv. GA 09B (high-oleic) and GA 06G (standard) with several hundred acres of cv. FloRun 107 (high-oleic).  All cultivars have a history of high yield production in Arkansas.

Early detection of peanut nodulation is helpful to determine if nitrogen fertilizer is needed for optimum yield.  Inspect peanut roots ~30 to 40 days after planting (DAP) (Fig 1) for nodulation.  An average of 15 to 20 nodules/ plant is sufficient for good nitrogen production; however, most fields recently inspected have too many nodules to count.  Nitrogen deficiency symptoms develop at pegging or early pod formation (60 DAP), which is too late to apply supplemental nitrogen fertilizer.  In a few on-farm trials, nitrogen fertilizer applied after deficiency symptoms were noticed (early pod formation) resulted in yield losses that were 50% lower than the state average (4200 to 4500 lb/ac).  Alternately, when nitrogen was applied earlier based on extremely low nodule counts, yield was comparable to the state average.  So, it is recommended to dig a few seedlings over the next few weeks to confirm good nodulation.

Figure 1. Nodules (blue arrows) produced by Bradyrhizobium sp. on 30-day-old peanut seedling.

Figure 1. Nodules (blue arrows) produced by Bradyrhizobium sp. on 30-day-old peanut seedling.

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