This time of year is really important to our farmers and processors here in Seminole County. Our growers have invested thousands of hours and dollars in their crops for this moment. The peanut harvest brings not only a financial relief but also a mental one, knowing that it is finally over for the year. The methods and processes for how our peanut crop is produced are constantly being researched to improve yield and revenue. One of the most recent methods under scrutiny is the application of an in-furrow fertilizer. Some farmers are for it, some are against it, and the University of Georgia has its own opinion.
If you are a farmer you already know what I mean by “in-furrow fertilization”, but not everyone will. For those who don’t know, the “furrow” is where the seed is planted. So “in-furrow” fertilization is the process of applying fertilizer as the seed is being planted. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea, but there are few factors to consider to determine if this is true. The percent of plants that emerge from seed is one of those factors. Recent UGA research from Dr. Scott Monfort looked at this in an in-ground, greenhouse trial to determine the additional benefit of fertilizing at planting.
During the UGA trial, Riser™ brand fertilizer was used to determine the benefits of in-furrow fertilization at .5,1,2 and 3 gallon per acre rates. These trials were tested against an untreated plot to have a baseline for results. The untreated plot ended up emerging quicker than all rates of fertilizer. In addition, the 2 and 3 gallon rates reported a significant decrease in overall emergence at 14 days after planting. These tests were performed in optimum soil and weather conditions. Results would have been even more drastic in a field trial. On top of underperforming, there is obviously an additional cost per acre to apply this fertilizer, even further lowering the profit margins for producers.
At the end of the day, farmers just want to improve their crops and provide the most efficient return on their investment. The additional time, cost and negative return on applying in-furrow fertilization is just not supported by the research. The official UGA recommendation on in-furrow fertilization for peanuts is NO. For additional information on this trial and others like it, call me or come visit the extension office. Stay safe out there.