Order of Digging Fields and Frost Peanut Notes No. 223 2020
Peanut maturity increased over the past week (this is written on October 2, see previous post.) Cooler weather is expected over the next few days followed by a short warming trend but then cooler temperatures by the middle and latter part of next week. By this point in season, the most important contribution information from pod blasting can provide is helping farmers get the order of digging in place rather than suggesting that they delay digging to increase maturity (of course there are some peanuts that need much more time and those folks will just have to wait it out.) If it has been several weeks since pod blasting, your prediction could have changed. Fine-tuning the order of digging could be important and warrants a closer look now. We have many farmers with acreage well of 300 acres and some with acres over 1,000 acres. Assuming digging capacity allow 50 acres a day, even for the 500-acre farmer, it will take 10 days to dig the entire crop (this assumes two diggers that will cover about 25 acres a day each with full days of digging and no major delays.) It takes roughly twice as many days to combine or harvest the crop. These numbers assume good field conditions. October is often one of our driest months and we will certainly need this to dig and harvest the crop.
Some fields need more time to mature and many fields are currently wet but drying out from the rain a few days ago. The logistics of equipment and acreage to cover along with fields that are currently wet will result in many fields having a chance to increase in pod maturity. But in my opinion, once fields dry people need to move quickly to dig, keeping in mind the order of fields based on maturity. But for June peanuts or peanuts that were under drought earlier in the season, a longer delay may be needed beyond simply letting fields get dry.
While frost is not expected in the next 10 days, once we get to mid-October our chances increase dramatically. Cooler temperatures and a frost have proven unpredictable over the past few years, but if our cooling trend stays in place we will need to be prepared. The lateness of the crop (due to planting date or drought during the summer that resulted in late pod set) creates considerable vulnerability moving into the latter part of the month and into November.
Peanut pods and kernels need a minimum for 72 hours between digging and frost to minimize the likelihood of freeze damage (Seg 2). This assumes good drying conditions and should be stretched out further if cloudy days are in place. Seeds or kernels that dry during this period and are less vulnerable to damage. They also shrink and create a boundary layer between the pod and kernel that serves as insolation. But these take 72 hours to get to a relatively safe place.