By Clint Thompson
Alabama peanut farmers are expected to go full throttle next week in planting this year’s crop. Alabama Extension peanut specialist Kris Balkcom says the cool temperatures this week were not ideal planting conditions. But that’s expected to change in a few days.
“It’s going to bust off next week, after this (cold) front gets out of here. We kind of hope we get a little bit of rain,” Balkcom said. “Once it opens up, maybe the temperatures will stabilize, and it’ll be the first of May and then it’ll be time to plant.”
Following rain this week, temperatures dropped to 45 degrees in Talladega, Alabama Thursday morning and expected to drop to 46 degrees Friday morning, according to www.weather.com. Farmers need temperatures to heat up, so when seeds are planted, they will germinate properly.
“Conditions haven’t been the best. Temperatures have still been cool. Soil temps have been a little bit cool. We’ve been trying to wait and let it get a little bit higher and that way it won’t affect our germination as bad,” Balkcom said. “The higher the soil temp, the better germ we’re going to have.”
Poor Seed Quality
Seed quality of this year’s crop could also factor into peanut farmers’ plans across the Southeast.
“We do have some seed issues, just because of last year’s crop when we were harvesting late and the weather conditions. It just wasn’t the best conditions,” Balkcom said. “We know we’ve had some germination issues that we sent samples in to get their germ test.
“Probably one thing that’s going to hold us back is the amount of quality seed out there to plant, I would imagine.”
Balkcom said there are seed treatments that are available to enhance the quality. That’s one option growers can utilize to avoid replanting. Another strategy is to wait until weather conditions improve. It’s a reason why there hasn’t been more acres planted already.
“That’s the reason why we try to get the word out about those different seed treatments and to know what your germ is; know your seed quality. And be able to go out there when conditions are more favorable, warmer temperatures so we can just (plant) at one time,” Balkcom said.
He projects Alabama farmers will plant at least 170,000 acres this year. It could approach 180,000 depending on how cotton prices fare.
“We were down to 150 last year just because everybody thought the cotton prices were going to go up, get better and that was going to be the crop. Peanuts were still $400. We’ve been cutting our acres back. This time we may be 180,000, but I know we’ll have 170-plus,” Balkcom said.