Pod Shed Peanut Notes No. 194 2019

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Pod shed is natural on peanut plants when they are approaching optimum maturity. If 3 to 5% pod shed is not occurring when one digs you are probably digging too soon. By preventing some pod loss on the front end you are not allowing yellow pods (mesocarp color) to move to orange and for orange to move to brown (and brown to black.)  Often times our eyes are deceptive – we are drawn to the negative. This is the case for disease. We may estimate 30% disease but if we actually make an objective measure (percentages based on counting) the number is often lower, and in some cases much lower. I think this can be the case for pod shed. If you have a high-yield potential (5,000 pounds per acre and greater), 3 to 5% pod shed is going to look like a lot, especially compared with 3,000 or 4,000 pounds per acre. Gary Roberson provides some information on pod loss and how that applies to yield loss. Three to 5% of 5,000 pounds is 150 to 250 pounds (at $0.23 per pound that is $35 to $58 per acre.)  That is certainly a real loss but my point is that we need to expect some pod shed as we wait for the peanuts in the color spectrum to change so that black, brown and orange (rust color) categories are realized. 65% in brown and black categories (equally distributed) can be a little scary but that is where we stand to make the most if we can capture them.

With that said, this is entirely up to the grower with input likely coming from several sources. I know how stressful it can be. With the acreage farmers have now and their capacity and the number of days that are good for field conditions, farmers have to start somewhere and not all acres can be dug at the perfect time. Many people think the chart we have for Virginia market types, which we developed at NC State, has farmers waiting a week too long. I’ll take the responsibility for the chart; when the pods fall under the green line that means that TODAY is when they are at optimum maturity. We do have yield data that bares this out. I definitely appreciate the risk people are taking to let peanuts get that mature. To make a decision on READY is more complicated, and MATURITY is only one part of that calculation.

To be honest, I argue with myself about when peanuts are ready and sometimes optimum maturity is lower on the list. But it is a good benchmark on what the pods are doing irrespective of our logistics, stress tolerance and ability to manage risk.

We do know that digging slower and making sure vines are protected well from disease results in less pod loss. For example, work with a new KMC digger with ground and conveyer speeds synchronized shows that going from 2 to 3 MPH results in a 5% yield loss. From 3 to 4 is another 5% loss. There are differences among diggers, and Clemson University has done excellent and more detailed work on this issue than we have. Making the extra chlorothalonil spray (or two, depending on weather conditions and pod maturity) can also minimize loss.