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Green Peanut Production

Green peanut production can be a profitable venture for many growers in South Carolina from the small hobby farmer to large commercial growers. One of the most important decisions a grower can make is “which variety to grow?”

Variety Selection

Green peanut markets can be locally specialized. That is, consumer acceptance and marketability is influenced by factors such as pod size, shape, kernel skin color, multi-kernel pods, and flavor. Despite this influence of tradition, a bright-hulled peanut with good flavor usually sells well and develops a market. Valencia, Virginia, Spanish, and Runner are the four market types grown in the United States. Valencia, Virginia, and Runner type peanuts are commonly grown in South Carolina for the green peanut market. Below is a description of each of the peanut types and some of the recommended varieties for each type. Where a variety is listed as high oleic, this indicates it has a greater oleic acid to linoleic acid ratio. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid considered healthy for the heart, and higher oleic acid content also contributes to a longer shelf life by up to ten times.1

Valencia Type

Some consumers prefer the distinctive flavor, multi-kernel pod characteristics, and red seed coat of Valencia peanuts. In general Valencia peanuts have lower yield than Virginia types, and their smaller pod size is also a disadvantage in handpicking.

  • Georgia Valencia: This variety has large pods and seed size and compact bunch growth habit. It also has improved disease tolerance, but similar early maturity compared to other Valencia varieties.
  • Georgia Red: This variety tends to yield higher and have darker red seed coat than other Valencia varieties.
  • Valencia A/ Valencia C: These varieties have a high percentage of three- and four-seeded pods. Valencia C yields as well or slightly higher than most other Valencia varieties.

Virginia Type

Virginia type peanuts are desirable in the green market because of their high yield, large pod size, and good flavor.

  • Bailey and Sullivan: These varieties are similar, with early maturity (between 130 and 135 Days After Planting [DAP]), high levels of resistance to TSWV (Tomato spotted wilt virus), CBR (Cylindrocladium Black Rot caused by Cylindrocladium parasiticum), and white mold/Southern Stem Rot (Sclerotium rolfsii). Pod size is similar to NC-V11. Of the two, Sullivan is high oleic.
  • CHAMPS: This large-seeded and early maturing (125 DAP) variety, has moderate resistance to TSWV. CHAMPS is considered to be susceptible to most other diseases.
  • Florida Fancy: This is a medium to late maturing (between 140 and 145 DAP) variety. It produces a large percentage of fancy pods and is similar in seed size to NC-V11 and Perry. The growth habit resembles runner varieties. It is resistant to TSWV and moderately susceptible to white mold and late and early leaf spot (caused by Nothopassalora personata and Passalora arachidicola, respectively).
  • Gregory: This variety’s large pods and bright hull make it an excellent choice for green peanut production. Gregory also has moderate TSWV resistance and is a medium maturity (between 140 and 145 DAP) variety. Gregory is very susceptible to late leaf spot and white mold. Gregory is particularly susceptible to drought stress and calcium deficiency because of its large pod size, and therefore, does best under irrigation. Seed have become limited.
  • Georgia 11J: Georgia 11J is high oleic, with very large pods and late maturity (150 DAP). This variety has resistance to TSWV but is susceptible to white mold and late leaf spot. This variety is a candidate for the specialty green peanut market due to its large pods, but later maturity is a disadvantage.
  • Sugg and Wynne: These varieties have resistance to TSWV, some resistance to CBR and white mold, and have larger seed than CHAMPS. Of the two, Wynne is high oleic. Both varieties are early to medium maturity (between 135 and 140 DAP).
  • Titan: Titan has exceptionally large pods and early to medium (between 125 and 130 DAP) maturity but is very susceptible to late leaf spot, white mold, and hopper burn. Yields can be relatively low if not irrigated.

Runner Type

Runner type peanuts get their name from the fact that they tend to have a prostrate or running growth habit. These are the “peanut butter peanuts” and although they have excellent flavor, most varieties are too small for efficient handpicking.

  • C99R: This variety has a relatively large pod for a runner type and has good TSWV resistance. Its disadvantage is its late (150 DAP) maturity.
  • Florida-07: This is a medium-to-late (between 145 and 150 DAP) maturity runner market-type peanut. Seed is similar in size to C-99R and, for this reason, gypsum is recommended for additional calcium. It has good-to-excellent resistance to TSWV with moderate levels of resistance to white mold and tolerance to leaf spot.
  • Georgia-07W: This is a TSWV and white mold resistant variety. Georgia-07W has more of a runner growth habit, dark green foliage, and medium (140 DAP) maturity similar to Georgia Green.
  • Georgia-06G: Georgia-06G is a large-seeded variety with a high level of resistance to TSWV. Georgia-06G has an intermediate runner growth habit, dark green foliage and medium (140 DAP) maturity similar to Georgia Green.
  • TUFRunner 297: This variety is large-seeded, high oleic, and a medium to late (between 145 and 150 DAP) maturity variety. It is resistant to TSWV.
  • Maturity determinations are for Days After Planting (DAP) for dry peanut harvest. Optimal harvest dates for green peanut production will be earlier than dates mentioned above.

Cultural and Agronomic Practices

Field Choice

Sandy soils are best for producing bright hulls. Soils with too much clay can give peanut shells a reddish color that can be undesirable.

Land Rotation

It is very important to maintain a minimum 3-year rotation (two years out of peanuts or any other legume, three years is better). Rotation is the basis for managing foliar and soilborne diseases. Managing diseases like pod disease are essential for maintaining yield potential and to obtaining a bright marketable hull.

Planting Date

Green peanuts are planted for the market window rather than for optimal production conditions. The ideal time to plant peanuts in South Carolina is generally between the first and second week of May. This timing minimizes damage from TSWV and gives the shortest production interval (about 100 DAP). Since some green peanuts have to be planted much earlier (between late March and April) to hit the best market price window, they can have more TSWV damage and a longer development period (see Management Strategies for TSWV under the Disease Management section below).

Seeding Rate

A good stand and rapid ground cover help to control TSWV and can suppress weeds. The recommended number of seed to plant per foot of row is five. For lower germ seed you may need to plant more in order to obtain a final stand of at least four plants per foot of row.

Row Spacing

Conventional row spacing is typically between thirty-six and thirty-eight inches. Narrower row spacing and/or twin-row production help to reduce tomato spotted wilt virus and weed problems by covering the ground more quickly.

Land Preparation

Traditional bottom plowing suppresses diseases and germination of weed seeds and turns down potash to reduce competition for calcium (Ca) uptake in the pegging zone. However, growers in South Carolina have produced high yielding peanuts without bottom plowing. Growers typically subsoil and bed their peanut ground or use some form of strip-tillage just like they use in cotton production. You can also plant flat.

Fertility

Peanut has a lower fertility requirement than other agronomic crops. You may not need to apply fertilizers if your soil fertility has been maintained at an adequate level for other agronomic crops. Before planting, take a soil sample and send it to the Clemson University Agricultural Service Laboratory for analysis in order to determine what type and rate of fertilizers need to be applied.

  • Peanuts need an application of Rhizobium (Bradyrhizobium) inoculant to ensure that nitrogen fixation takes place, especially on new peanut land. The inoculant should be specific to peanuts. Liquid in-furrow inoculants are best. Seed treatments are less reliable, and in-furrow granular inoculants usually stop up in the delivery tube. Nitrogen application (30 – 90 lb/ac actual N = 143 – 428 lb/ ac ammonium sulfate) is recommended on new ground if the inoculant fails. Poorly inoculated fields usually do not show up until 45 DAP. Check for the presence of large (1/8″ or larger) nodules on the taproot by uprooting plants with a shovel. At 45 DAP an average of fifteen large nodules per taproot is considered good; less than ten per taproot is marginal and less than five indicates poor inoculation.
  • Target soil pH should between 5.8 and 6.2.
  • Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K): Apply P and K according to soil test results. Peanuts respond best to residual fertilizer. Adequate residual potash is especially important if you don’t bottom plow. Excess K in the pegging zone interferes with Ca uptake causing pod rot, so avoid potash application in the spring if you can’t turn it under.
  • Calcium (Ca): High soil Ca is critical to quality peanut production, especially for Virginia types. Apply 300 lb/ac of Ca (1,500 lbs landplaster) at first bloom to reduce pod rot and brighten hulls. Half this amount can be used if it is applied in a band over the pegging zone. Fall liming is also beneficial in maintaining at least 600 lb Ca/ac and a 3:1 Ca to K ratio in the pegging zone.
  • Boron (B): If the soil test shows B less than 0.4 lb/ac, apply 0.5 lb B/ac (2½ lb/ac Solubor or 3 lb/ac boric acid) at early bloom or split into two 0.25 lb/ac applications. Boron can be tank mixed with the first herbicide or fungicide application.
  • Zinc (Zn) toxicity: Peanuts are very sensitive to Zn. Stunted plants with split stems are a sign of Zn toxicity. Check Zn levels on any new land prior to planting, especially in old peach orchards or where Zn has been used for high yield corn production. Zn toxicity also occurs on old building sites or around stock pens which had galvanized roofs. Soil test Zn levels as low as 6 lb/ac can cause toxicity when the soil pH is below 6.0. Liming to increase soil pH can reduce Zn toxicity in contaminated soils.

Irrigation

The time period during which there is the greatest need for water is from pegging until a week before digging. A rule of thumb is to supply 1.5 inches per week minus rainfall. Irrigation is critical in peanut production because it allows you to take advantage of other inputs. Irrigation is used to water in herbicides (e.g. Prowl, Sonalan, Dual, and Cadre), fungicides (Abound, Folicur), and insecticides (Lorsban). Without timely rain or irrigation these inputs are much less effective.

Pest Management

Insect Management

Insects can significantly reduce peanut yield and quality if not managed. Effective insect management relies on irrigation, cultural practices, and the application of insecticides.

  • Thrips: Thrips need to be controlled at planting or shortly after emergence. Effective control of thrips will reduce/suppress TSWV. In-furrow applications of Thimet 20G at 5 lb/ac or foliar application of Orthene after emergence will help reduce feeding by thrips and subsequent transmission of TSWV.
  • Products with imidacloprid (e.g., Admire Pro, Velum Total) are also effective at controlling thrips and reducing their damage, but these products tend to increase amounts of TSWV stunting and are best used with highly virus-resistant varieties (e.g., Bailey, Sugg).
  • Soil insects: Apply Lorsban (13 lb/ac) at early pegging (about 45 DAP) to reduce pod damage by lesser cornstalk borer and wireworm. In addition to reducing pod damage, Lorsban helps brighten hull color by improving white mold control. Unfortunately, Lorsban also causes outbreaks of corn earworm, granulate cutworm, and spider mites later in the season. Drought stress aggravates the issue. However, irrigation and the shorter growing season used in green peanut production lessens the possibility that these pests will require control.
  • Foliage caterpillars: Foliage feeding worms (corn ear worm, beet armyworm, fall armyworm, velvetbean caterpillar) typically become a problem during the last week of July and the first week of August. The treatment threshold is four worms per row foot for stressed and non-lapped peanuts. Rank-growing peanuts can tolerate up to eight foliage feeding worms per row foot. Asana, Karate, Baythroid 2, Belt, and Lannate are some insecticides labeled for peanut. Granulate cutworm can also be a problem late in August where Lorsban was applied.
  • Spider mites: Irrigation is the best spider mite defense. Comite and Omite are labeled for mite control. Use of Danitol is not recommended for spider mites. An application of Lorsban or pyrethroids tends to aggravate spider mite problems.

Disease Management

Diseases can significantly reduce peanut yield and quality if not managed. Therefore, effective disease management relies on resistance, cultural practices, and the application of fungicides.

Management Strategies for Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV)

Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is transmitted to peanuts by thrips. TSWV reduces yield and causes shriveled, misshapen pods. The disease is more of a problem on green peanuts due to the use of early planting dates followed by a sequence of later plantings for staggered market availability.

Management strategies to reduce TSWV risk include:

  1. Varietal Resistance: Resistance is the first line of defense against TSWV. Varieties like Bailey, Georgia-07W, Georgia-06G, and Sugg have moderate to high levels of TSWV resistance.
  2. Planting Date: Planting during the first two weeks of May reduces TSWV, but this is not practical for green peanut production. Staggered planting dates in the same field increase virus problems on later plantings.
  3. Seeding Rate: A seeding rate of five to six seed per foot of row is recommended to guarantee a uniform stand, which can help minimize the feeding habits of thrips and reduce TSWV risk.
  4. Thimet In-Furrow: Thimet 20 G (5 lb/ac) reduces TSWV injury.
  5. Strip-tillage with a cover crop reduces TSWV compared to conventional tillage.
  6. Twin row: Planting peanuts in a twin-row configuration allows for faster ground coverage, which also can mean less TSWV.

Management Programs for Foliar and Soilborne Diseases

The primary strategy in disease management is resistance. Varieties like Bailey could save you several fungicide applications and/or reduce dependence on expensive fungicides. Cultural practices like tillage and rotation can also reduce the impact of diseases on peanut. Unfortunately, resistance and cultural practices cannot eliminate diseases. With this in mind, fungicides have remained an important part of the fight against diseases in both green and commercial peanuts. Fungicide programs used for green peanuts are the same as recommended for dry peanut production with the exception that the green peanut production period is much shorter (about 100 days vs. 140 days) and the crop value is higher.

The key to producing a bright hulled cosmetically pleasing product is to prevent white mold and Rhizoctonia limb rot from getting started. Alternating different fungicide chemistries reduces the potential for developing resistant strains of soil-borne and foliar diseases and also gives some insurance against the failure of one product alone. Table 1 shows an example of an alternating schedule. It is important to read fungicide labels for application rates and preharvest intervals before applying.

Table 1. Example of an alternating fungicide schedule.

1st Application 45 DAP Bravo 1.5 pts + Tebuconazole 7.2 oz OR Bravo 1.5 pts + Tebuconazole 7.2 oz
2nd Application 60 DAP Provost 10.7 oz Propulse 13.6 oz
3rd Application 75 DAP Bravo 1.5 pts + Convoy 16 Bravo 1.5 pts + Convoy 16

All application rates are per acre. Propulse additionally helps manage nematodes.

Do not use any adjuvants, stickers, or crop oil with fungicides. The goal is to wash some of the fungicide into the soil. Applying fungicides before irrigation or rain can increase soilborne disease control. However, to ensure leaf spot control, wait between twenty-four and forty-eight hours to irrigate after fungicide application.

Cylindrocladium black rot is caused by a soilborne fungus which occurs in the same fields from year to year, often in low spots. Resistance, rotation, and fumigation (Vapam 10 gal/ac) can be used to control CBR. Bailey, Sugg, Sullivan, and Wynne have some resistance to CBR. The application of Propulse 13.6 oz/ac or Proline 5.7 oz/ac in-furrow at planting has been shown to suppress CBR.

Weed Management

Good weed control is the key to limiting yield loss from direct plant competition and harvest loss. Starting with a weed free seedbed, either through mechanical land preparation or chemical burndown is a must. Cultivation is an economical method for early season weed control in peanut and needs to be performed before canopy closure and/or when peanuts begin to peg. Mechanical cultivation is beneficial when herbicides are not effective or if an organic production system is required. Care should be exercised to prevent the placement of cultivated soil onto the peanut foliage. If herbicides will be utilized for weed control, there needs to be a combination of pre-emergence and post- emergence herbicides for the most successful weed control program. There are a lot of possible variations in weed control programs for the many combinations of problem weeds, but an example program would be: Prowl or Sonalan PPI; Dual PRE (watered in); Gramoxone + Basagran to kill the first flush of small weeds; or Cadre (note 90-day preharvest interval); possibly followed by 2,4-DB (Butyrac) for escaped broadleaved weeds or Select for escaped grassy weeds. Excessive rates of DNA herbicides (Prowl, Sonalan) in the pegging zone cause severe peg injury and yield reduction. Take care to observe all preharvest application intervals for herbicides used in green-market peanut production.

For pesticide response charts and more detailed information on product rates and application timings, consult Clemson Cooperative Extension’s 2019 South Carolina Pest Management Handbook or the 2019 Peanut Money-Maker Guide.

Marketing and Sale of Green Peanuts

In South Carolina, sales of green peanuts are usually done at the farm, local farmers markets, roadside stands, or through contracting with wholesalers. Depending on the buyer, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification may be required. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are voluntary audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.2 The South Carolina Department of Agriculture provides GAP Certification information and assistance.

References Cited

  1. Chamberlin K, Melouk H, Madden R, Dillwith J, Bannore Y, Rassi ZE, Payton M. Determining the oleic/linoleic acid ratio in a single peanut seed: A comparison of two methods. Peanut Science. 2011 [accessed 2019 Nov 13];38(2):78–84. doi:10.3146/ps11-3.1
  2. Good agricultural practices (GAP) & good handling practices (GHP). Washington (DC): United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service; 2019. [Accessed 2019 Nov 13]. https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/auditing/gap-ghp.

Additional Resources

2019 Pest Management Handbook. Clemson University Cooperative Extension. 2019.
https://www.clemson.edu/extension/agronomy/pest%20management%20handbook.html.

2019 Peanut Money-Maker Production Guide. Clemson University Cooperative Extension. 2019.
https://www.clemson.edu/extension/agronomy/peanuts/guide.html.

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