Monday, 6 October 2008: 3:00 PM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 371D
The high demand for organic peanuts is currently met exclusively by farmers in New Mexico and Texas. A team of researchers and farmers in the Southeast, traditional home of most U.S. peanut cultivation, has begun to overcome the challenges of organic production there, with yields of >3000 lbs/a on small acreages in 2007. The main post-establishment disease problems, early and late leaf spot and tomato spotted wilt, have been overcome through resistance, planting date, and thrip control. Insect pests generally can be controlled adequately by managing water (making irrigation a necessity for organic peanuts) and some organic sprays. The greatest challenges have been twofold: (1) Stand establishment, currently best approached through late planting under ideal temperature and moisture conditions and high seeding rates (130 lbs/a), with a supplemental planting if necessary; and (2) Weeds, particularly grasses and in-row weeds, which are only tractable through diligent cultivation twice weekly with flex-tine and sweep cultivators in the early season. Spot hand-weeding may be required but economical, whereas organic herbicides, flame weeding, and conservation tillage have not been cost-effective. Future work will focus on these challenges and the broader issues of seed supply and securing organic shelling options.