The 2016 peanut harvest is under way in South Carolina and Clemson’s peanut specialist said pests and weather have been the main issues affecting this year’s crop.
Tomato spotted wilt virus is one problem the state’s peanut growers have had to face.
“The tomato spotted wilt virus was greater this year than what we’ve seen in previous recent growing seasons,” said Dan Anco, Clemson peanut specialist. “Some folks thought thrips that carry this virus stayed around longer this year than on average. This may have been related to the relatively mild winter temperatures we had that may have contributed to greater survival of thrips in general.”Dan Anco
How much the tomato spotted wilt virus affects growers depends on a number of factors, including how susceptible the variety planted is to thrips, Anco said.
Drought conditions the state experienced during the summer is another issue with which South Carolina peanut growers have had to contend.
According to Mark Malsick of the South Carolina State Climatology Office, the average rainfall amount across South Carolina from May 1 to Aug. 31 this year was 3.79 inches. The normal average rainfall amount for these four months is 4.80 inches. May was the wettest month, with a statewide average rainfall of 4.85 inches.
Normal average rainfall for South Carolina during May is 3.25 inches. June was the driest month, with an average of 2.25 inches of rain falling. Normal rainfall for June is 4.71 inches. Data was taken from Greer for the Upstate, Columbia Metro for the Midlands and Charleston Air Force Base for the Lowcountry.
Anco said these amounts weren’t “the best for producing the greatest yields,” adding the majority of the state’s peanut crop, about 80 percent, is grown without irrigation.
Hurricane Hermine brought a break in the drought, dropping 5 inches to 9 inches of rain on many fields, which didn’t create too much of a problem for peanuts, Anco said.
“Most fields were dry enough to use it,” he said. “What really helped out was how for much of the state, the entire week following Hermine’s rain was hot and dry. This gave the ground time to deal with the water it had.”
In addition to being dry, the weather also has been hot, mostly in the 90s, for much of South Carolina. These hot and dry conditions may have contributed to two-spotted spider mite infestations, which have added an element of difficulty for several growers, he said.
The 2016 peanut harvest has started in some parts of the state with several growers who have started digging Virginia type varieties, Anco said. Other growers will have to wait from one to four or more weeks until their peanuts will be at optimal maturity before harvesting.
“The best thing now for growers is to have good weather conditions for digging, drying and later combining,” Anco said.
Good weather seems to be in the forecast. The outlook for September, October and November include above average temperatures coupled with normal to below normal rainfall, Malsick said.
According to the Farm Service Agency, an estimated 106,000 acres of peanuts were grown in South Carolina this year. Figures from he United States Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service shows the value of peanut production in South Carolina was more than $52 million in 2015. The 2015 acreage was estimated at 110,000 acres as was the 2014 peanut acreage.