Kernel Separation From the Hull Peanut Notes No. 206 2022

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It is extremely dry in some areas of the state. In fields that have experienced drought for the past month, plants are wilting all day and are not recovering at night. In some of these fields the seed or kernel is separated from the hull. If soil conditions remain relatively dry and the hull is not damaged or degraded in some way, the kernels are protected relatively well. The ones you can hear rattling in the hull have dried and shrunk to the size they will be at harvest. There is some risk for them staying in the field but not as long as our weather is relatively dry. If we get rains, the hull will begin to deteriorate and the kernels will too, over time. The question is whether or not to dig. I have not been able to find any data that really helps with the decision. But if 50% or more of the pods have kernels that are rattling, I would dig. If there is only 10 to 30%, I’d let the peanuts stay in the field longer just in case the pods with kernels still attached can progress in maturity.

Of course, if we get moisture to push attached pods and kernels along we might be in a situation where the ones that have separated could degrade. And if it stays dry, the pods may progress very little in terms of maturity. This is a tough call, and you will note that I did not have a suggestion with rattling hulls between 30 and 50%. Another consideration is how many plants are beginning to die compared with the ones hanging on but are still drought stressed. Ultimately, we are trying to give the somewhat healthy plants with pods and kernels still linked a chance to increase in maturity. This is a field-by-field decision. Feel free to call if you want to walk through the process of deciding.

You might think of how pods will stay on vines based on what happens when we dig peanuts. When we dig we cut the tap root and invert, and from there the plant dries quickly but can sit there for a long time prior to harvest if we don’t have wet weather (generally unseasonably warm weather) or a situation where vines get wet then dry then wet, etc. They will deteriorate more quickly under those conditions. And while there is often greater risk with peanuts below ground, I think the analogy with peanuts in the windrow in terms of pods and kernel separation is a reasonable one.