Peanut Yields and Grades

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I have had several questions from people concerning high yields and relatively poor market grades. I also talked to someone in Virginia and another person in South Carolina expressing the same phenomena. Generally, peanut yields and grades track one another quite well. It does seem rare that we would see yields over 5,000 lbs/acre that graded in the high 50s to low 60s (meat content.) With that said, I think our peanut varieties have moved to another level. We have “strong” varieties. It could be that these varieties compensate well for stress or they simply are high yielding. The explanation for high yields and low grades could be the following. First, temperatures in June and July were record breaking in terms of the number of days at very high temperatures, especially at night. This no doubt could have affected pollination. As time progressed during the summer we finally received significant rains (in many areas) and then with Irene we were able to catch up across most if not all of the state. Consequently, peanuts were behind and when they received adequate rainfall in either July or later in August they were able to develop a significant group of late pegs and subsequently pods. As we moved into late September we ran into a few nights of relatively low temperatures and this prevented the crop from continuing to mature at a rapid rate that was sufficient to make a high-grading crop of peanuts. However, peanut plants may have added a lot of pods after the rains that would add to yield, and if the bulk of the pods [and if there were a lot of them] was produced late, it stands to reason that we might have a high yielding crop (with many many relative immature pods…orange category) without a great deal of pods in the brown and black category. We may have set a really good crop late but ran out of heat units (when water was available) due to cooler weather in September. Not sure if this is the reason why but it seems plausible. Also, even though the rains from Irene were positive as a whole for peanuts, those plants might have been stressed physiologically by the wind and other elements of the storm. Hard to tell how much plants like peanuts are damaged internally from wind, etc. from those types of storms.

On a separate note, has anyone seen abnormally high amounts of sprouting in the field?

Also, there has been a question of how to handle peanuts that may have frost damage. Is there any way to minimize this if it happens? Some old notes out of Virginia suggest that when drying these peanuts do not do it too fast. If anyone has ever been duck hunting and warmed their frozen hands too quickly, I suspect you were feeling what a peanut that has been damaged by frost feels when too much heat is applied too quickly. Thawing too quickly is where the damage comes from. Better to warm up your hands and peanuts slowly. Also, it is generally recommended not to blend damaged peanuts with good peanuts. Maybe we have missed the bullet on freeze damage, but I suspect we still have about 30% of the crop in the field to pick as of today. I suspect 95% has been dug by now.

Article first appeared as North Carolina Peanut Note (PNNC-2011-062)