2005-09-07 / Fields & Yields

In the Furrow

By Will Duffie County Extension Coordinator

The passing of Labor Day has Burke County farmers anticipating peanut harvest. As peanut

growers prepare equipment for harvest the citizens of Burke County must be aware of the increased farm equipment

on the

public roads.

Residents will notice several pieces of farm equipment including tractors with diggers/inverters, peanut combines and peanut hauling trailers. Peanut harvesting equipment will vary in size from two to six rows. What this translates into is equipment will be as wide as 25 feet across. These large combines are wider than the normal travel lane which is 21 feet wide. In addition they will travel at a maximum of 20 miles per hour.

new peanut combine on Cleve Mobley’s Farm    new peanut combine on Cleve Mobley’s Farm When will peanut harvest begin? The majority of the 17,515 peanut acres in Burke County were planted during the month of May. Depending on the variety, weather and crop conditions, peanuts will normally mature in 130 to 150 days after planting. This will put the harvest season from Sept. 10 through Oct. 15.

So how does the crop look thus far? Over the past several days I have visited a few peanut fields and have spoken with several growers on how their crop is progressing. Overall the crop has good potential but only harvest will answer this question.

Several key issues are of concern to growers. First, the To m a t o Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) has been the most damaging disease to peanuts in 2005. The UGA Peanut Team rates peanut fields across the state for TSWV when fields near maturity. Field rating thus far has shown the most infected fields in Central Georgia at over 95 percent infection.

In our area we have not seen infection at these high levels, but levels of 15 to 25 percent are common. Remember this is the same virus that devastates the tomato plants in your garden. The peanuts planted before May 10 or plants that have an uneven stand tend to be more damaged. At this point nothing can be done about the virus.

Second, white mold (a disease) has been heavy during the month of August due to high night time temperatures, which created favorable conditions for the disease. Growers were and are diligent in applying fungicides to prevent extensive losses from white mold.

Finally, growers are currently watching fields for an increase in damaging worms. These caterpillars may include loopers, velvetbean caterpillars, corn earworms, tobacco budworms and several species of armyworms. The economic or treatment threshold is when four to eight worms are found per foot.

Over the next month peanuts will be checked for maturity using the hull scrape technique. The hull scrape method removes the outer layer from the peanut hull showing a color variation among

different age peanuts. The darker hull represents a more mature field.

Along with the hull scrape method, growers must consider other factors such as vine and peg health, weather, acres to be harvested and some others that assist in determining the proper time to dig the field.

The Burke County Extension Office would like to wish a good harvest season on our local peanuts growers.

We strongly urge citizens of the area to be patient when you get behind farm equipment on the road. Don’t make a decision you will regret.

For more information on peanuts contact the Burke County Extension Office at (706) 5542119.

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