ROAD MAP TO THREE TON PEANUTS
When the Ton Per Acre Peanut Club was initiated in the early 1950s, Frank McGill, who was the University of Georgia Extension agronomist from the early 1950s to the early 1980s, said many farmers would come up to him and say, “Frank, you don’t believe this hogwash that we can make a ton per acre of peanuts.” Those farmers believed it was an impossible goal to average a ton per acre. Today, some farmers scoff at the notion of averaging three tons per acre, but in 2010, eight out of 11 of Georgia’s top peanut farmers averaged over 6,000 pounds per acre on their entire crop in the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club entries.
The Ton Per Acre Peanut Club morphed into the Georgia Peanut MoneyMaker Club when I started as a county agent back in Calhoun County in the early 1980s. The goal of the Georgia Peanut MoneyMaker Club was to honor Georgia’s top farmers who averaged over two tons per acre. Georgia was divided into four peanut growing districts and then there were four acreage categories (under 100 acres, from 100-299 acres, 300-599 acres and above 600 acres). The goal of two tons per acre stayed the same for nearly three decades although there were a few years that the requirement of averaging two tons per acre had to be dropped to 3500 per acre in the above 600 acre category in order to have a farmer qualify in the central and southeast Georgia districts. This was because there were so few farmers growing over 600 acres of peanuts in these districts and a low percentage of irrigated peanuts, especially compared to southwest Georgia. The Georgia Peanut MoneyMaker Club is now the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club.
Mr. McGill told me recently the first Ton Per Acre Peanut Club consisted of 28 farmers from Alabama to South Carolina with the highest yields being 2500-2600 pounds per acre. He noted that the universities didn’t conduct much peanut research back then so the production practices of these farmers were invaluable in assisting growers throughout the South improve their peanut yields. Now growers have a wealth of peanut research at their disposal and the top peanut growers take full advantage of this research to produce these tremendous yields. Growers in the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club list their production practices which still plays a valuable role in aiding other farmers in improving their yields.
The yield potential of our current peanut varieties is well over 7000 pounds per acre. Two factors will determine if growers average three tons per acre. One-management- is completely in the control of the growers. The other-weather (timely rainfall, moderate temperatures and good harvest conditions)- is completely out of the growers’ control. Earlier this year I gave a presentation to growers on averaging three tons per acre. I will be going more in-depth in my blog over the next couple weeks with the management practices of the growers in the 2009 and 2010 Georgia Peanut Achievement Club that will be of interest to growers striving to average three tons per acre. I will also include the University of Georgia research data that supports these practices.
I talked with Dr. John Beasley, University of Georgia Extension peanut specialist, about sharing the Peanut Achievement Club winners’ information and it has already been published. Below are the 2009 and 2010 Georgia Peanut Achievement Club, their acreage and average yields. These growers should be commended for their superb yields and their willingness to share their production practices with other growers.