Peanuts take lead in rotation

Diversified Oklahoma producer Joe D. White is a strong proponent of crop rotation on farming operations at Frederick and Davidson. The rotation is peanuts, corn and cotton — leading off with peanuts.

“That gives us a three-year rotation on peanuts,” White notes. This rotation also allows the same amount of cotton and corn acreage. What’s cotton ground one year is corn the next year, and vice versa.

White has gone almost all Virginia variety peanuts, which he likes to plant the first week of May, when Oklahoma’s infamous weather cooperates.

All peanuts are irrigated with mostly Valley center-pivot rigs, plus he has a new Lindsay Zimmatic center-pivot system.

Key Points

A peanut, corn and cotton rotation works for Oklahoman Joe D. White.

2011 growing season with its hot, dry and windy weather was a tough row to hoe.

Grower feels blessed that irrigation wells have sustained for so long.


White’s basic fertility program is 60-40-60 NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) plus some trace elements. White moldboards potash into the soil as his preplant K. By mid-July, he always puts Abound down to protect against pod rot. White also finds Folicur does a real good job of controlling white mold in peanuts.

Record heat, historic drought and merciless winds made 2011 one of the most challenging years ever to raise peanuts, or any crop, but White and wife Gayle got through it. “This year has been just so tough; all you could do is pray,” he says. “It was just terrible; hot winds blowing hard every day.”

A single rain

The one rain in the spring was a hard one, which pulverized the sandier soils, and when followed with extremely high, hot and relentless winds, White was amazed the peanuts emerged to a stand this year. But Gayle ran a rotary hoe to fight the sand and save the tender peanuts.

Then throughout the growing season, record heat and uncompromising drought made the center-pivot irrigation of the peanuts a priority. White feels fortunate still to have good water.

“Some of these irrigation wells were drilled the day I was born in 1955,” White notes.

Peanuts and cotton harvest

When the Oklahoma weather cooperates, White likes to dig peanuts between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15.

“Sometimes we dig a few peanuts in September, but mostly October,” White says. In any case, he aims to get all the peanuts harvested before gathering cotton.

“We like to finish harvesting peanuts by Halloween and try to finish cotton stripping by Christmas,” he says. Peanuts go to a buying point in Vernon, Texas, and then on to Clint Williams Co. in Madill, Okla. A good cotton crop makes a “white” Christmas for sure.

Despite the heat, White’s Deltapine variety, DP 1044 B2RF, did surprisingly well this year. The cotton is noted for being able to take “Arizona-type heat,” which Oklahoma certainly experienced. Its mid- to full-maturity growth habit, smooth leaf, and outstanding performance in dry weather or with limited irrigation made it work well for the Oklahoma grower. White also likes the excellent seedling vigor.

With the boll weevil already eradicated from Oklahoma, White only had to spray his cotton one time this season for fleahoppers. He uses growth regulators to manage his cotton and then harvest aids to take it down the final stretch. White takes his cotton to the Red River Gin — the Tillman Producers Co-op between Davidson and Frederick.

White expects a decent cotton crop this year. His peanuts likely will be off 1,000 pounds per acre overall, but some peanuts at Davidson looked exceptionally good this fall.

This producer learned from some of the best farmers, including his father, Joe D. White Sr., and both grandfathers. “I’ve added to it, but I’ve always had a lot of support,” White says appreciatively.

White’s one farm employee, German Torres, has been working for him since 1981. “We’re the same age,” White allows.

“And I have good landlords; they treat me real fairly,” he says of his expanded operation. “And I love what I do.”

And he always comes back to peanuts. Prices are good this year. They are better some years than others, but overall, peanuts have been good, White notes. “We need farmers to see peanuts make a good crop here in Oklahoma.”

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HAS GOOD RIGS: Joe D. White’s new John Deere 8260R tractor with its self-cleaning exhaust system, when paired with his KMC six-row peanut combine, is a great combination to harvest peanuts in Tillman County, Okla.

This article published in the November, 2011 edition of THE FARMER-STOCKMAN.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.