Selection for Larger or Smaller Seed Size Peanut Notes No. 34 2019

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I recently had a question about seed size and whether or not a variety can change over time if selection is going on. The answer is yes. If there is a continuous level of selection (removing extra large kernels, for example) the result can be a smaller-seeded variety. This occurred with NC 10C many years ago, and toward the end of that variety’s life (it was a smaller-seeded Virginia market type) it struggled to grade out as a Virginia market type (40% fancy pods.)  This is a reminder of why purchasing certified seed of known origin and known “handling” is important. It would certainly take a lengthy period of time (generations of selection) to “create” a smaller-seeded variety but it is possible. Also, some farmers growing for the boiled peanut market as well as some home gardeners have selected for larger seeds for a variety. The variety can get bigger and bigger in terms of seed size. In the same discussion there was a question about saving seed for planting to maintain the desired seed size (boiled peanut market.)  The same question can be applied to farmers wanting to save their own seed. This is understandable given contract prices and cost of production. But this can be a challenging process. Not only do the peanuts need to be grown well and handled gently at harvest, but they also need to be stored well, shelled with minimal damage and most certainly treated with commercial fungicide. In a busy world, this is a lot to keep track of and to do well at each step in the chain. Starting with high-quality seed and getting an adequate stand with good vigor is essential.