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Time to Plant Peanuts?

Posted by romeethredge on March 29, 2012

We have growers that want to go ahead and start planting peanuts because it has been so warm. I think it is still too early.

Dr. John Beasley, UGA Extension Scientist has the following comments about peanut planting.

We have had several mornings with lows in the low 50’s that help bring the 4-inch soil temperature down so the cool weather is not over yet.

As of yesterday (March 27), all reporting stations in the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network (www.georgiaweather.net) have a 7-day average 4-inch soil temperature in the upper 60’s or lower 70’s, warm enough to plant peanut seed.

If you are not familiar with the soil temperature resource in the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network, go to www.georgiaweather.net  and click on the + sign by the “Peanut” link on the left-hand side of the home page. When you click on the + sign you will see a link for “Soil Temperature”. Click on the “Soil Temperature” link and you will see all the reporting stations in south Georgia that have peanuts in their counties. There will be seven days of 4-inch soil temps. Every day it adds a day and drops a day and the far right-hand column has the 7-day average. We recommend that growers and wait to plant when the 4-inch soil temp is 65 degrees or higher and more recent research indicates we really need to wait until it hits 70 and above for three days or longer to be on the safe side.

HOWEVER, I would be very, very cautious planting just yet. I would like to see us get through another week to 10 days and make sure there are no cold fronts headed our way soon because even though our sandy soils have warmed up enough to plant they have not stabilized at those temperatures enough to prevent a quick drop in soil temp following the passing of a cold front. Keep in mind that the rain in the spring cold fronts is still cold and will lower the soil temperature quickly. These fronts typically come from northwest travelling southeast with cold air following behind. The typically summer rain events are thunderstorms generated by heat and are tied into moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Also, remember what the “old timers” say about an Easter freeze – there always seems to be a cold snap around Easter. Easter Sunday is April 8th and I would like to get past then if possible. One sure sign that we are probably not due any more freezing or very cold weather is all the pecan trees have leaved out and blackberry vines have bloomed. It doesn’t mean we still won’t have cold (40’s and low 50’s) mornings that will drop soil temp. Also remember that sandier soils warm more quickly but tend to cool off more following the passage of a cold front. The sandy clay loam soils (the “red” soils in the Sumter, Randolph, Calhoun, Early County areas) warm more slowly but do not drop as far or fast following the passage of a cold front.

My recommendation – be cautious for another 7-10 days before pulling the trigger. Also, we are dry right now, which could inhibit seed germination and plant emergence in marginal soil temps. Many fields are still too dry to plant, so that is a concern. Encourage your growers to be patient. I know we want and encourage planting earlier this year but we must be patient and make sure we don’t have any more cold snaps.

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