David Jordan says there are enough seed peanuts of the varieties Wynne and Sullivan available this year to plant a high percentage of North Carolina’s peanut crop to these new high-oleic cultivars next year.
Speaking at the Northeast Ag Expo at the Lynn Hobbs Farm in Hobbsville, N.C., Jordan, North Carolina State University’s Extension peanut specialist, said the shelling industry is calling on peanut farmers to produce more high-oleic peanut varieties next year.
This year, 80 percent of North Carolina’s peanut acreage is devoted to the popular variety Bailey, but Jordan said the challenge with Bailey is that it’s not high-oleic. Jordan said North Carolina will begin to see a shift away from Bailey to the high-oleics Wynne and Sullivan beginning next year.
“When you shift to high-oleic cultivars, you have to go all the way or not at all,” Jordan stressed. “You have to keep high-oleics separate from regular peanuts. If they get comingled, and somebody thinks they’re buying a high-oleic and the quality drops off, it’s a problem for the whole industry.”
Jordan noted that Sullivans offer a bigger pod size than Bailey, which the shelling industry likes. Wynnes are bigger than Sullivan, but Jordan says the pods in Wynne can shrivel up which is not uncommon for large seed peanuts. “If you have a dry year and can’t irrigate, you’re going to have a lower yield and lower quality with Wynnes because it takes more water and more calcium to fill out,” he said.
“Wynnes have a place, but I probably wouldn’t grow any more than 25 percent if I couldn’t irrigate. If I can irrigate, that changes the dynamic quite a bit and I can plant more Wynnes,” Jordan said.
As for Sullivan, Jordan says its yields are comparable to Bailey, producing an average of 4,500 pounds compared to about 4,700 pounds for Bailey. However, a plus for Sullivan over Bailey is that it has less rank growth and plant growth regulators won’t be needed as with Bailey.
“If we shift to Sullivans, we won’t need to apply a plant growth regulator. That’s a cost savings of $30 to $50 per acre, which makes up for the slight yield difference with Bailey,” Jordan said.
Meanwhile, as peanut farmers prepare for harvest, Jordan is encouraging them to be patient and not dig too early.
"Coming off a tough year last year, folks are going to want to get their peanuts out earlier than normal because they just don’t want to take the risk. I caution against this. When we dig peanuts a week early, we leave anywhere from 200 to 500 pounds per acre in the field that we could have gained,” he emphasized. “That’s anywhere from $60 to $90 per acre and that can pay for your entire fungicide bill, your entire herbicide bill or entire insecticide bill, just by being patient and leaving those peanuts in the field longer.”