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Nutrient Management for High-Yield, High-Quality Peanuts


How to ensure your peanuts have the nutrients they need.

While all nutrients are important to soil health, specific elements are more important for certain crops. To obtain the highest yield and best quality peanuts, successful growers will establish nutrient management plans to ensure their soils contain the minerals that peanut plants need. Here's a look at how growers can manage the most critical peanut nutrients.

Calcium

Eddie McGriff, Agronomist with Southern States, explains that calcium is one of the most important nutrients for peanut plants. “Without calcium, peanuts can develop pod rot, or you can end up with "pops," or empty pods," McGriff says.

Calcium must be applied through the pegging zone, since the plant cannot distribute the nutrient through its roots. "You're competing with potash and magnesium for space in the pod," McGriff explains. "The more calcium you have in the pegging zone helps it compete with potash and magnesium."

By keeping the ground well supplied with lime, you can ensure a higher pH level of 6.0 to 6.5, which is ideal for sustaining calcium levels. Most peanut farmers will apply a calcium supplement as well. "Growers can use landplaster or gypsum, added about 30 to 45 days after planting, around bloom time, to keep calcium levels up," McGriff says.

Boron

Boron is another critical nutrient for peanuts. If a boron deficiency exists, a disorder called hollow-heart can occur, which leaves the kernels hollow inside and poor-tasting.

"Growers typically apply boron along with their first and third fungicide applications at a quarter pound of actual boron per acre each time," McGriff says.

Manganese

Though peanuts grow well in a less-acidic environment, those conditions are not ideal for manganese. The higher the pH, the less available manganese becomes, causing many peanut growers to add manganese supplements to their nutrient management program.

When a manganese deficiency occurs, you can tell by looking at the leaves. They will turn pale green, but the veins will remain dark green. "You don't want to wait until the plant is under stress to add manganese," McGriff advises. "Most growers will do a Brandt Smart Trio foliar application as insurance." You can also take a tissue sample to determine any manganese needs.

Other Tips

Growers should also note that, as a legume, peanuts make their own nitrogen, so it might not need to be supplemented. Peanuts also must be properly inoculated. "I encourage growers to use a high-quality product like ABM peanut inoculate for the job," McGriff says.

Growers should also recognize that peanuts are good scavengers of phosphorus and potash but should follow the soil sample test results for phosphorus and potash needs.

For more information and tips for growing high-quality peanuts, consult your local Southern States professional.

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