Hot, dry weather conditions in the southeast region of the United States in 2011 have led to peanut farmers showing an increased demand for rhizobia inoculants this planting season, according to Becker Underwood.

Rhizobia inoculants help increase yield by causing the peanut plant to form nodules on the roots which the rhizobia populate. Within the nodule, the rhizobia gather nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form of nitrogen the plants can absorb. Many rhizobia occur naturally in the soil. Rhizobia that are applied as commercial inoculant treatments are specially selected and produced to increase the formation of nodules.

Justin Clark, field development specialist for Becker Underwood, the major supplier for commercial inoculants in the region, said peanut producers and their agronomic consultants understand how valuable it can be to apply commercial inoculant products, particularly when the weather has been as hot and dry as 2011.

“The specially selected rhizobia can really help the yields of peanut farmers, especially in years following what we’ve just experienced where severe drought conditions most often prevented native rhizobia from surviving,” said Clark.

“Native rhizobia are limited in how effective they can be even in good years with perfect growing conditions because populations self-select to survive the environment, and not necessarily to be high nitrogen producers,” said Sherman Hollins, regional sales manager for Becker Underwood in the southeast United States. “But in years like we’ve just experienced, even the native rhizobia populations were often wiped out. The natural rhizobia have evolved to help themselves survive. Becker Underwood rhizobia are designed to help the peanut plant be more productive. A University of Georgia agronomist recently noted that this year, maybe more than others, peanut farmers should consider applying rhizobia. We agree.”

The Becker Underwood lineup doesn’t just stop at rhizobia, explained Hollins.

“Several of our inoculant products are stacked in combination with other active biologicals like Integral biofungicide that provide additional disease protection, improved nutrient uptake and increased root vigor,” he said.