Writer: Norman Martin
CLOVIS - An innovative row spacing technique will featured at a free peanut field day Sept. 1 in Clovis and Portales. The goal is to determine if yields can be improved through this high density planting, which gets the plants off to a faster ground cover at the beginning of the season.
"This spacing method has been tried before in cotton and corn, but this is one of the first times we've seen it in peanuts," said Naveen Puppala, a peanut breeder with New Mexico State University's Agricultural Experiment Station. "Normally, rows are spaced between 30 and 40 inches. This technique uses four rows, spaced 10 inches apart."
The half-day program begins with registration and tours at 8 a.m. at NMSU's South Research Facility, located on County Road 4, five miles south of Clovis. At 11:30 a.m., the program shifts to the Eastern New Mexico University farm on the South Floyd Highway, adjacent to the La Casa de Buena Salud Health Care Center in Portales.
The field day program, which winds down at 12:30 p.m., will be followed by a luncheon.
Featured speaker Jimmie Shearer is president of Roosevelt County's Sunland Inc. and a member of the National Peanut Standards Board. He'll review the current peanut surplus problem for U.S. growers, focusing on its impact on New Mexico's Valencia peanut crop.
According to the National Peanut Buying Points Association, some 215,000 tons of peanuts are still unsold from the 2004 crop, and agricultural officials predict growers will produce another 2.3 million tons this year.
Eastern New Mexico grows more than 80 percent of the annual U.S. supply of the specialty Valencia peanuts, which are sometimes called ballpark nuts or Tennessee Reds because of the red skins on the kernels. The state's farmers produced some 59.5 million pounds of peanuts on 17,000 acres in 2004, according to the New Mexico Agricultural Statistics Service.
Field tours will review crop management and rhizobium selection and application techniques by Calvin Trostle, an agronomist with Texas A&M University. Nitrogen-fixing rhizobium bacteria live in root nodules.
Curry County peanut grower Richard Robbins will discuss the experimental row spacing study under way on his farm. Puppala will review the peanut breeding research program on the farm of Roosevelt County's Craig Breshear. His focus will be on two promising new lines of Valencias, which showed 20 percent higher yields last year at five locations in eastern New Mexico and West Texas.
Floyd McAlister, Roosevelt County agent with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, will provide an overview of peanut disease and fertilizer studies. Soumaila Sanogo, an NMSU plant pathologist, will cover biological control measures for seed treatment.
For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact Puppala or Mark Marsalis in advance at (505) 985-2292 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or McAllister at 505-356-4417.
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