SHulletin No. 9 New Series December, 1928
i Growing Peanuts
JOHN M. SCOTT
I State of Florida
1 Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College of
Agriculture. University of Florida,
*V A. tI ," .LO
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Nathan Mayo. Commissioner of Agriculturre
T. J. Brooks, Director, Bureau of Immigration
Phil. S. Taylor, Advertising Editor
John IM. Scott. Agricultural Editor
Growing Peanuts in Florida
BY JOHN M. SCOTT
Prepared and Published in Co-operation with the College of Agriculture,
University of Florida, Gainesville
HE peanut is one of the easiest crops to grow in Florida,
as well as one of the most important general farm crops
raised in the State. Around 200,000 to 215,000 acres are
planted to peanuts in the State each year. About one-third of
this acreage is harvested for the market, while the remainder
is grazed by hogs. If there were no peanut crop in Florida, it
is doubtful if many hogs would be raised in the State.
Peanuts are not grown on a large scale in every county in
the State. although the crop may be grown successfully in all
sections. At the present time three-fourths of the peanuts
grown in the State are in those counties north and west of the
southern boundary of Marion county, which constitutes what
is known as North and \est Florida. The Nineteenth Census
of Crops by the State Department of Agriculture gives the
acreage of peanuts in the ten chief peanut producing counties
of Florida as follows:
Jackson ............. 50,670 acres
Suwannee ..... 31,592 acres
M arion ........... ........ 12,701 acres
Levy ............... ... ...... ........ 11,820 acres
M adison ............. .... ... ............. .... 9,843 acres
(olumbia ... ..................... .... 9,401 acres
Hamilton ..... 8,803 acres
A lachua ........... ...... ... 8,377 acres
Lafayette ....... .. .. 7,858 acres
H olm es ........ .......................... ................... 6,701 acres
The peanut, which is a legume, belongs to the same family
of plants as do the clovers, alfalfa, beans and peas, but has the
peculiar habit of developing its seeds underground instead of
on top. as do most of the other legumes. During the early days
when peanuts were first cultivated, it was thought necessary
to cover the blossoms with soil in order to secure well-filled
pods. It is only necessary, however, that there should be a bed
of loose soil surrounding the plants, and they will then take
care of themselves. This is one of the chief reasons peanuts
are best suited to a sandy soil. The blossoms of the peanut
4 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
appear above ground, shooting out from where the leaf joins
the stem, and after fertilization takes place the flower withers
and the little stem or peg elongates and pushes down into the
earth, where the pod develops. This habit of the peanut has
an important bearing upon the production of the crop, in that
peanuts should be planted only upon loose, sandy soils, and
the soil must be well cultivated and loose in order that the
pegs may enter the soil and form pods.
In common with other legumes, the peanut has the power
through the agency of bacteria upon its roots to draw the
nitrogen from the air and not only use it for its own growth
but to store it in the soil for the use of other plants as well.
This can be seen by pulling up a peanut plant and noting the
immense number of nitrogen-gathering nodules upon its roots.
(See Figure 3.)
The habits of the peanut render it especially adapted to
cultivation on the sandy soils throughout the Southern States,
and particularly the sandy soils of Florida. In fact, the in-
dustry has grown so rapidly that from 600,000,000 to over
1.000,000.000 pounds has been the annual production in the
United States during the past few years, valued at around
$40.000,000 or more each year.
THE SOIL AND ITS IREIARATION
Peanuts thrive best on a rather loose, sandy loam soil with
a limestone subsoil, such as is found in abundance throughout
Florida. Peanuts can also be grown on the heavier alluvial
soils, but as a rule they produce better yields and are easier to
cultivate and harvest on the light, sandy loam soils.
When preparing the land for peanuts, it should be plowed
broadcast about the same depth as for corn. generally 4 to 6
inches deep. If there is a heavy growth of grass or weeds on
the land, it should be plowed early in the year so as to give
time enough for the vegetable matter to decay before the plant-
ing date for peanuts arrives. Some people like to bed the land
before planting, but if the land is well drained there is no need
for bedding. It is generally advisable to have the land level
when the crop is planted, and as cultivation proceeds the soil
may be worked toward the plants so that by the time the crop
is laid by the rows will be on a small bed.
The use of commercial fertilizers for peanuts is a much de-
bated question. A number of the experiment stations in the
GROWING PEANUTS IN FLORIDA 5
Southern States in recent years have been conducting fertilizer
experiments with peanuts, the object of these experiments
being to determine the best fertilizer formula and amount to
apply. The majority of these experiments indicate quite
strongly that it is not profitable to use commercial fertilizer on
peanuts. In most tests the commercial fertilizer increased the
yield, but the increase was not generally sufficient to pay for
the fertilizer used.
Director M. J. Funchess of the Alabama Experiment Station.
in a recent issue of the "Progressive Farmer," said: "The chief
thing we have learned is that no kind of fertilizer is likely to
pay much profit when applied to peanuts.
"The following results were obtained as the average of nine
tests in South Alabama: The increase in yield from an applica-
tion of 240 pounds of acid phosphate per acre was 147 pounds
of peanuts. In three of these tests, the increase was less than
80 pounds of peanuts, while on three other farms the increase
ranged from 100 to nearly 300 pounds, with an average of all
tests of 147 pounds.
"The average increase from the use of 240 pounds of phos-
phate and 200 pounds of kainit per acre was 168 pounds of
peanuts. By the addition of 200 pounds of kainit, the increase
was raised from 147 to 168 pounds, which indicates that, for
200 pounds of kainit, there was a return of 21 pounds of pea-
"When 240 pounds of phosphate, 200 pounds of kainit, and
200 pounds of cottonseed meal were applied per acre, the in-
crease was 265 pounds of peanuts. Two hundred pounds of
meal in connection with the phosphate and kainit increased
the yield 97 pounds above that produced by the phosphate and
kainit alone. It appears to the writer that an application of
about 200 pounds of acid phosphate per acre is about the only
fertilizer that is likely to return to the farmer a real profit
when applied to peanuts."
It seems that the most profitable way to increase the yield
of peanuts is to follow a good crop rotation so as to improve
the soil. Whenever a good cover crop is plowed under, the fol-
lowing crop of peanuts will usually produce an increased yield.
In a great many of the early publications on peanut culture.
and especially in the agricultural papers, great stress was laid
on the necessity of lime for the successful growing of peanuts.
Recent research work in some of the experiment stations.
2 I-Peiinn t
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
however, indicates that liming peanuts is not as important as
it was formerly thought to be except on certain types of soil.
Here in Florida where the soils are classed as sandy and sandy
loam, it has been found impracticable to use lime in any form.
An application of as much as one ton of ground limestone to
the acre has in some cases proved to be detrimental to the
peanuts so far as yield was concerned.
The only type of soil on which it is advisable to use lime is
one that is well filled with humus and has a good clay subsoil.
but it is not advisable to use lime on the sandy soils.
SOIL IMPROVING CROPS
It is seldom advisable to grow peanuts exclusively on any
farm, but generally preferable to grow them in rotation with
other crops. Peanuts are adapted to growing in a rotation
system with corn, cowpeas, oats and cotton, the cropping ar-
rangements being made to conform to local requirements. A
crop of peanuts should invariably follow some crop that has
been kept cultivated reasonably clean, as this decreases the
labor required to keep the weeds under control.
The growing of soil improving crops is the most economical
and practical way to increase the acre yield of peanuts. Where
a legume cover crop is grown and plowed under during the
late fall or early winter, a crop of peanuts planted the follow-
ing spring will generally produce a larger yield than where
one merely applies commercial fertilizer.
The particular legume to use for a soil improving crop is
largely a matter of personal choice. There are a number of
legumes to choose from, such as velvet beans, cowpeas, soy
beans, beggarweed and crotalaria. One should grow the cover
crop that does best on his particular type of soil. It is im-
portant that the entire cover crop be plowed under if the yield
of the crop of peanuts that follows is to be increased. It is
useless to expect that the stubbles left after the tops have been
cut for hay will give the same results as where the entire crop
is returned to the soil.
There are some winter legumes that may be used as soil im-
proving crops, such as Austrian winter pea, hairy vetch and
Monantha vetch. On certain types of soil these-winter legumes
make a good growth and will therefore supply a considerable
amount of organic matter to the soil when turned under.
One should always remember that legumes are the best soil
GROWING PEANUTS IN FLORIDA
PEANUTS AS A SOIL BUILDER
Peanuts are a legume and are therefore generally included
in the list of plants called "soil builders." A "soil builder"
is a plant that adds something to the soil upon which it grows.
However, when the entire peanut crop is harvested, removing
both the tops and nuts, there is only a small amount of material
left on the land to be returned to the soil, which generally re-
sults in the fertility of the land being depleted rather than
increased. Even if the stubbles and roots of the peanut crop
are returned to the soil, only the hay being removed, approxi-
mately two-thirds of the plant food in the crop is removed
with the hay and only one-third returned to the soil. For the
land to receive the full benefit from any soil improving crop, it
is necessary that the entire crop he re tuIned to the soil. One
can therefore hardly expect his land to be benefited from a crop
of peanuts when both the roots and tops are removed and al-
most nothing returned to the soil.
The Florida Runner is perhaps tlie most commonly, grown
variety in the State, and is used almost exclusively for hog
feed. It seems probable that the Florida Runner is the same
variety that goes under the various names of Alabama Runner,
Georgia Runner, North Carolina Runner, and possibly others.
It has a spreading vine and produces a medium-sized nut.
The Spanish variety is next in importance in Florida and is
now grown largely for the shelling mills, where it is used ex-
tensively in the manufacture of salted peanuts, peanut butter
and peanut oil. The Spanish has an upright or bunch habit of
growth, with the peanuts clustered about the base of the plant.
The Spanish and Florida Runner are the two varieties gen-
erally grown in Florida, although another variety that is rather
new in the State is the Valencia, which is in demand for use
in the manufacture of salted peanuts and peanut butter. This
variety has not yet gained a very wide popularity in Florida,
although it is a common variety in many of the Southern
SELECTION OF SEED
Careful selection of seed is just as important with peanuts
as with any other farm or garden crop. The best varieties have
originated by selection, and it stands to reason that they may
be still further improved by the same process. Only the best
of the crop should be saved for seed, and wherever a particular-
ly fine plant is found it should be saved separately and the
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
nuts planted in a row to themselves, or in a small patch where
they can be closely observed. If several extra fine plants are
selected and the peanuts from each saved separately, the seed
might be planted in a special seed plat, a row being devoted
to the product of each plant. In this way comparisons may be
made from time to time and the best saved for further
The ideal plant should not only produce a large number of
pods, but the pods should be well filled, uniform in size, smooth
and of bright color. The nuts themselves should be plump.
bright, uniform in shape and size, and well filled. If a grower
does not have a good strain of seed, he should purchase from
someone who has given the matter attention; then in future
years give special care to the matter of saving good seed.
PLANTING SHELLED OR UNSHELLED PEANUTS
The seed of the large varieties of peanuts are practically all
shelled by hand for planting. In the case of the Spanish, the
nuts practically fill the pods, making it difficult to remove the
shells by hand. The machines used in the factories for shelling
peanuts break the nuts more or less, and even when the nuts
are not broken the germination is often injured by the rough
handling. For this reason it has generally been found safer
to plant the Spanish peanuts in the shell almost exclusively.
The shelled nuts will sprout a little more quickly than those in
the shells, but a few days' time will not make any material
difference. If desired, the pods may be soaked in water 10
to 15 hours before planting in order to hasten germination.
TIME OF PLANTING
Peanuts may be planted any time from early spring to mid-
summer. The general practice among the best farmers in Flor-
ida is to plant the peanut crop as soon as they have finished
planting corn, which means that the majority of the peanuts
are planted before May. It is generally advisable, however, to
have the peanuts in the ground by the middle of April, al-
though when intended to be grazed off by hogs they may be
planted any time in April or May. The early plantings usually
produce the best yields, although late plantings will produce
good yields when climatic conditions are just right.
The distance between rows and the spacing in the row in-
fluences the yield of peanuts very materially. There is strong
evidence that the low acre-yield of peanuts in the past has been
GROWING PEANUTS IN FLORIDA 9
to a large extent due to the fact that an insufficient amount
of seed is generally planted per acre. During the past four
or five years a number of the Southern experiment stations
have been gathering data on this phase of peanut culture. The
Alabama Experiment Station gives a report on planting dis-
tances for Spanish peanuts, as shown in Table No. I. The
yields given are five-year averages.
TABLE I. Experiments on Planting Distances for Spanish Peanuts,
Conducted by the Alabama Experiment Station. (Five-year Averages.)
Width of rows Width in row Yield per acre
(inches) (inches) (bushels)
18 4 59.5
24 4 52.7
30 4 43.6
36 4 43.3
18 8 44.1
24 8 39.0
30 8 38.2
36 8 27.1
18 12 479
24 12 38.6
30 12 33.4
Department Bulletin No. 1478 of the United States Depart-
ment of Agriculture gives results of planting distance experi-
ments on yield of peanuts as shown in Table II. These results
were obtained in South Carolina, so they should be applicable
to Florida conditions. The experiments indicate that closer
planting materially increases the yield of both peanuts and
hay, which are in line with the experiments conducted by the
Alabama Experiment Station.
TABLE II. Average Yields in 1917, 1918 and 1919 of Improved Spanish
Peanuts in Rows 21/2 and 3 Feet Apart in Which the Seed Was Spaced
at Various Intervals. (Plots One-Twentieth of an Acre.)*
acing Yield of Yield of
Row and Plot pa rows peanuts hay per
per acre acre
Rows 22 feet apart- 1 Inches Pounds Pounds
Plot N o. 1 ............................ 3 850.00 1 2,023.33
Plot N o. 2 .................... ...... 6 713.33 2,056.67
Plot No. 3 ... ... ...... ........ 9 590.00 1,610.00
Plot No. 4 ..... ......................... 12 573.33 1,693.33
Plot No. 5 ............................... 15 595.00 1,560.00
Rows 3 feet apart- Inches Pounds Pounds
Plot No. 6 . ...................... 3 763.33 1,830.00
Plot No. 7 ... ... .......... 6 653.33 1.656.67
Plot No. 8 ........... ................ 9 653.33 1,700.00
Plot No. 9 ... 12 570.00 1,606.67
Plot No. 10 .......... 15 476.67 1,420.00
U. S. D. A. Dept. Bul. 1478.
10 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
W. E. Stokes, agronomist of the Florida Experiment Station.
reports that results obtained by his department bear out the
In view of the above experimental data, it seems that the
best planting distances for the Florida Runner are two and
one-half feet between rows, with the peanuts six to ten inches
apart in the row. By planting this distance, from one to one
and a half bushels of seed will be required to plant an acre
of Florida Runners. And for Spanish peanuts, the rows should
be about two feet apart and the plants from three to five inches
apart in the row, which will require from one and half to two
bushels of seed in the hull to plant one acre. When shelled
seed are used, a bushel and a half of Spanish and a bushel of
Florida Runners will generally plant an acre.
INTERPLANTING WITH CORN
A large acreage of the peanuts grown in Florida is inter-
planted with corn for hog feed. Two methods of interplanting
are followed. The general practice is to plant corn in rows
six or seven feet apart, then plant the peanuts between the
rows of corn. The other method is to plant corn in four- and
five-foot rows, and then plant the peanuts in the rows with the
corn. The Florida Runner variety is used almost exclusively
for such planting.
When interplanted with corn, the acre yield of peanuts is
materially reduced, but the combined feeding value of the two
crops is generally greater than that of either crop when planted
When corn and peanuts are interplanted, the general practice
is to let the hogs harvest both crops, although in some cases a
part of the corn crop may be gathered and the hogs allowed
to harvest the remainder. Such a practice is one way to pro-
duce pork very cheaply.
The machines now upon the market for planting peanuts
are constructed somewhat upon the plan of the one-horse cot-
ton planter. These machines are well adapted to planting the
shelled nuts, both of the large and small varieties, and, if the
peanuts are clean and free from stems, are quite satisfactory
for planting the Spanish nuts in the shells.
In using the one-horse machines, the land is first laid off in
rows one way by means of a marker similar to that used in
laying off corn rows. The planter is then run in this mark.
GROWING PEANUTS IN FLORIDA 11
and it drops, covers, and rolls at one operation. The distance
of planting is regulated by changing gear wheels or plates on
PLANTING BY HAND
For hand-dropping, furrows or marks are made with a
sweep-stock or single shovel just a little in advance of the
droppers so as to prevent the soil drying out. The seeds are
hauled to the field in bags, and close-woven baskets of about
half-bushel size have been found desirable to drop from. The
droppers simply take a small handful and work them between
the thumb and first finger, dropping the pods at regular dis-
tances. Behind the droppers the seed are covered by means of
a cultivator having the center teeth removed and a notched
board placed across the rear portion, the notch coming directly
over the row. The horse that draws the covering cultivator
or harrow should be hitched with a side draft so that it will
not walk directly upon the row.
DEPTH TO COVER THE SEED
The depth to cover the seed will depend somewhat upon the
compactness of the soil. If the soil is of a light, sandy nature
and in good mechanical condition with plenty of moisture, the
seed should be covered about two to three inches deep.
Should the soil at planting time be quite dry it will be desir-
able to cover the seed at least three or four inches to insure
PROTECTION OF SEED FROM ENEMIES
After planting, the seeds are often molested by moles, crows
and pigeons; blackbirds are also accused of destroying the
young plants just as they come through the ground. For the
protection of the seed in the soil from moles, there are a num-
ber of pine and coal tar preparations on the market that are
said to have some virtue. When it comes to protecting the
young plants from crows, pigeons, blackbirds, etc., nothing
is more effective than a shotgun. If the seeds are all well
covered at planting time, there is not so much danger of crows
or other birds getting a start upon them.
The cultivation of peanuts is practically the same as that
for corn. If the peanuts have been planted four or five inches
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
deep and as a result are slow in coming up, which means that
the grass and weeds will get a start on the peanuts, it is a
good plan to board off the rows just before the peanuts come
through the ground. This use of the board destroys the first
crop of weeds, especially the weeds in the row, and in many
cases will take the place of one hoeing. If one prefers, a
weeder or light harrow may be used to give the first cultivation
after the rows have been boarded off. In using these tools,
very'little attention need be paid to the rows; in fact, many
growers prefer to go directly across the rows.
Throughout the growing season of a crop of peanuts it should
be the aim to keep the entire surface of the soil fine and" loose.
and a bed of loose soil near the plants in which the pods may
form. It is scarcely necessary to add that the crop should be
kept free from weeds. It is considered a good practice to
throw the soil well toward the plants at one of the first cultiva-
tions, forming a bed, and at the same time leaving a small fur-
row in the center of the alley to provide drainage in case of
heavy rains. It is not necessary to cover the blossoms or to
throw soil over the vines. The best method is to provide an
abundance of loose earth near the plants and there will be no
difficulty in plants setting pods. Hand hoeing may be neces-
sary, especially during a rainy season when the grass grows
When the peanuts begin to peg down it is time to stop culti-
vation; or, if cultivation is absolutely necessary, the middles
only should be cultivated. If the peanut vines are disturbed
after they begin to peg down, the crop will be materially re-
duced in yield and much later in maturing.
LENGTH OF GROWING SEASON
It takes from 90 to 150 days from the time of planting for
peanuts to mature, depending mainly upon the variety. The
S'panish variety generally requires from 115 to 130 days. while
the Florida Runner requires from 130 to 150 days.
It is necessary to harvest the Spanish peanuts rather prompt-
ly after they mature, particularly if there is much rainfall,
since rain at about the time they mature will tend to cause
the nuts to sprout and grow. Where many of the nuts have
sprouted, both the market and feed value of the crop will be
materially reduced. The Florida Runner, on the other hand,
may be left in the ground longer than the Spanish without
danger of sprouting, but, of course, they cannot be left in the
ground indefinitely without some of them sprouting.
GROWING PEANUTS IN FLORIDA
The proper time for harvesting the peanut crop is indicated
by a ripening appearance of the vines, which consists of a slight
yellowing of the foliage and a drooping of the vines. Another
method is to examine the pods. When practically all pods are
well filled, firm and solid, and the inner coat of the hull is
browning, it is generally a sure sign that the time for harvest-
ing has arrived. Those who have grown peanuts soon learn
how long it normally takes a particular variety to mature in
their locality. When peanut hay is desired, the crop should
be harvested in time to secure the best quality of vine and leaf.
The usual custom in the older peanut sections has been to
simply run a plow under the roots and lift them from the
ground. Sometimes a specially designed plow is used having
a share or point with a broad wing to extend beneath the
plants; in other cases an ordinary plow is used, but the turning
or mold board is removed to prevent the furrow being turned.
the idea being to simply loosen the plants. This practice of
Fig. 1. A good type of plow to use in harvesting peanuts.-Courtesy U. S.
Department of Agriculture.
plowing out the crop has been responsible in a great measure
for the general depletion of soil fertility throughout the peanut
belt. To maintain soil fertility these roots must be left in the
soil. By the old method of plowing out the crop almost all of
the roots are removed, and as they have not subsequently been
returned to the soil, depletion of fertility has been the result.
The proper method is to employ a tool which will cut off the
greater portion of the root and leave it in the soil. In several
sections the farmers have had special tools made for running
under the peanut vines, and some of these are worthy of more
general use. One type of tool often used is shown in Fig 1,
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 2. A common type of plow used in harvesting peanuts.-Courtesy
U. S. Department of Agriculture.
which is simply a plow with the mold board removed, and in
place of the mold board about three iron rods are attached.
Still another type of machine is shown in Fig. 2, which may be
made by a local blacksmith. Where the crop has been well
cultivated and no weeds are present, the crop may be harvested
with a potato digger, but this will not be satisfactory when
grass and weeds have made much growth.
When peanuts are grown as a hog feed, it is more economical
to let the hogs do the harvesting.
After the peanuts have been loosened in the ground with a
plow, the vines are taken up with the pods attached and
stacked around small poles to cure: (See Fig. 4.) Proper
harvesting and curing is about the most important part of the
handling of the peanut crop. Many persons who are growing
peanuts for the first time have an idea that the crop may be
handled in some easier and cheaper way than by stacking, but
many years of practice have shown that stacking around poles
is the simplest and best method. By placing the vines and pea-
nuts in small stacks they are permitted to dry slowly and at
the same time there is enough ventilation so that they will not
METHOD OF STACKING PEANUTS TO CURE
As already mentioned, the proper method of curing peanuts
is to stack them. vines and all, around stakes set in the field
GROWING PEANUTS IN FLORIDA
where the crop is grown. (See Fig. 4.) Before starting to
harvest the crop, it is necessary to provide small poles to be
used as stakes around which to stack the peanuts. These stakes
should be 7 feet in length by about 3 or 4 inches in diameter.
and may be either split out of large logs or simply small sap-
lings with the bark upon them. From 12 to 35 of these will be
Fig. 3. Indication of a good yield of Spanish peanuts. Note nitrogen
nodules on the roots.
required for each acre, according to the stand and growth
of vine; the rule, however, is about 22 stacks to the acre. Poles
should preferably be hauled and piled where they can be con-
veniently distributed through the peanut field when the rush
of harvesting comes on.
As a rule, 11. 13, or 15 rows of peanuts are placed in a single
row of stacks. The digging machine is started in the center.
on the row where the stacks are to stand, and is worked out-
wards until the necessary number of rows are lifted. After the
machine has gained sufficient headway the poles are distributed
at distances varying from 12 to 20 paces and set in the ground
by means of a pointed bar, a peg and a maul, or by a post-hole
digger, and tamped in place. The stake should be set into the
soil sufficiently deep to prevent the stack blowing over. On
the other hand, they should not be set so deeply as to prevent
their being easily lifted with the stack at picking time.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Peanuts should not be handled when there is dew or rain
upon the foliage, but aside from this, they may be stacked
within an hour or two after digging. Before starting to build
the stack, a couple of short pieces of 1-in. x 2-in. or 1-in. x 3-in.
boards about two feet long must be nailed at right angles
across the stake about 12 to 15 inches from the ground; then
the stacks are simply buiit upon these. (See Fig. 4) One
should endeavor to keep the peanuts and roots close around
the pole, at the same time giving the outer part of the stack
GOINGG PEANUTS IN FLORIDA 17
a downward slope to carry off the water during rains. As
the stack is nearing completion, it should he kept higher in
the center and drawn to a point. If convenient, the top of
the stack may be finished with a bundle of dry grass, or a few
peanut vines may simply be rolled together and pressed down
over the top. Wet or green hay should never be placed on top
of the stack. When completed, the stack should be about 6
feet in height and 20 inches in diameter.
LENGTH OF TIME PEANUTS SHOULD REMAIN
Once the peanut vines are in tile stacks they will be com-
paratively safe for 5 or 6 weeks, or until they are dry enough
to pick from the vines. As a rule, the curing period will re-
quire at least 4 weeks, and if the nuts are not molested by
birds, field mice, rats or thieves, they may remain in the stacks
for 3 or 4 months without injury. The crop will not be ready
to pick from the vines until the stems have become brittle and
the nuts have attained a nutty flavor.
A very common method of determining when the peanuts are
ready to run through the picker is to break open a few of the
pods and note the condition of the kernels. When the brown
,Fig. 5. Peanuts in the stack.-Courtesy U. S. Department of Agriculture.
18 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
husks that contain the kernel will slip off the kernel, the pea-
nuts are cured sufficiently to pick.
PICKING FROM THE VINES
Formerly peanuts were all picked from the vines by hand,
the work being done largely by negro women and children.
but in recent years several machines have been developed for
doing this work. These peanut-picking machines are of two
types. one having a cylinder like an ordinary thresher, and
in the other a picking mesh of diagonally woven wire is em-
ployed. (See Fig. 6.)
Thle essentials of a satisfactory peanut-picking machine are,
first, that the pods should be picked clean from the vines with-
out breaking or cracking the shells; and, second, that the pea-
nuts be cleaned of all the coarse dirt and separated from the
pieces of stems. There is always a small quantity of very fine
dirt adhering to the hulls of the peanut, which must be sep-
arated from them in the cleaning process.
The greatest objection to the work of peanut threshers in
the past has been that they broke too many of the shells, in
many cases breaking the kernels as well and rendering them
unsalable. This breaking of the shells is a more serious dam-
age than might appear at first thought, as the keeping qualities
of the nuts depend upon their not becoming broken. There
are a number of insects which attack peanuts while in storage,
especially during the summer months, and these cannot injure
the kernels unless the shell is cracked or broken.
The yield of peanuts per acre will vary from ten bushels up
to fifty or more, with an average of twenty to twenty-five
bushels per acre for the entire State. In most cases it would be
possible to increase the yield by closer planting.
One cause of the low average yield is that over half of the
peanut acreage in Florida is interplanted with corn, which
means that just about half of the ground is really occupied
by peanuts. The yield of an acre of peanuts is, of course, much
greater when planted alone than when interplanted with an-
SACKING AND HANDLING AFTER PICKING
As the peanuts come from the picker they are placed in sacks
and either hauled direct to the cars or stored for later delivery.
The standard peanut bag is about four bushels. As the bags
Fi Nuter~j picker t work,-Courtesy S, Depirtmet of Agriculturt,
20 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
are filled, they may be sewed and tied at the corners to facili-
tate handling. If the peanuts are not to be sold immediately
they are often taken from the bags and stored in bins or in
slatted cribs where they will get air. The storage room should
be proof against rats and mice.
The peanut vines, if properly cared for after the removal of
the peanuts, make an excellent hay. The best plan is to have
a baling press working while the picking is being done and
press the vines into moderate-size bales.
The peanut-picking machines break the hay considerably, but
by careful handling in baling the leaves and stems can be
worked into the bales together in the proper proportions. The
feeding value of peanut hay renders it worthwhile to take
special precautions in curing and handling it.
There are generally three markets for peanuts. One is the
shelling mills, as such mills demand considerable quantities of
the best nuts for roasting, candy, and other confections. A
second market consists of the peanut oil mills. Peanut oil is
one of the best cooking oils that can be produced, and the
cake or meal resulting from the manufacture of oil is a very
valuable protein feed. Peanut meal is also used quite largely
in mixed fertilizers. The.third market, available to practically
all farmers, is to feed the peanuts to hogs and market the pork.
Fig. 7. Peanut shelling plant and corn elevator in Jackson County.
R___ (OWING PEANUT'S IN FLORII)DA
All kinds of livestock will eat and thrive on peanuts, peanut
by-products, and peanut hay.
When the grower plans to market his crop in bags, it is
necessary to exercise caution to keep the peanuts as clean as
possible. free from stones, sticks, dirt and pieces of stems.
When the peanuts are not properly cleaned the buyers are com-
pelled to (lock the weights, and this results in dissatisfaction
to both parties. If the nuts are not clean as they come from
the picker, they should be run through a fanning mill to biow
out the dirt. and afterwards picked over by hand if necessary.
WEIGHT OF PEANUTS
llhe unit in handling peanuts is the pound rather than the
bushel or bag. Florida Riniier peanuts weigh about 22 pounds
to the measured bushel, while the Spanish weigh about 30
pounds to the bushel. By using the pound as the unit in buy-
iug and selling peanuts, the troublesome question of weight
per bushel wil be avoided. Peanuts grown in one section may
weigh more to thle bushel than those grown in another or even
an adjoining territory.
USES OF PEANUTS
AS A FOOl)
Peanuts now find uses as a food in a great many ways aside
from being roasted and sold in packages. There is a great and
ever-increasing demand for peanuts to be used in the prepara-
tion of salted peanuts. peanut butter, peanut candies, peanut
flour and vegetarian meat substitutes. Owing to the high nutri-
tive properties of peanuts, they are rapidly assuming an im-
portant place as a standard human food, the consumption of
peanut butter alone amounting to thousands of pounds an-
The oil from peanuts has the same culinary and table uses
as olive oil, cottonseed oil, and some of tlhe other vegetable
oils, and like them is considered a wholesome and valuable
food product. Thirty pounds of Spanish peanuults will yield
one gallon of oil.
VALUE AS STOCK FEED
The entire peanut crop may be used as a feed. The whole
peanuts as harvested, however, are not as desirable a feed for
either cattle or hogs as is the meal made from the peanuts.
The objection to the whole peanut for feed is that it contains
22 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
too large a percentage of oil or fat, the whole nut analyzing
about 36 percent fat. A large part of the oil of whole peanuts
is wasted because the animals cannot digest so much oil. Hogs,
however, can utilize whole peanuts better than other classes of
Peanut meal is an excellent feed for all classes of livestock.
Good results have been obtained in feeding it to beef cattle,
dairy cattle, hogs and poultry. When feeding peanut meal
to hogs and poultry, only the high grade meal without hulls
should be used. Beef and dairy cattle can utilize the peanut
meal containing hulls to much better advantage than can hogs.
The average percentage composition of various peanut prod-
ucts is as follows:
Average Percentage Com.position of Various Peanut Products*
| '-3 5 i I-
Peanuts in the hull .............................. ..... 5.9 2.7 25.2 17.5 12.5 36.2
Peanut kernels ..................... .... ........... 5.3 2.3 30.5 2.5 11.7 47.7
Peanut cake or mnea from hulled nuts 6.6 4.8 44.8 7.6 26.0 10.2
Peanut cake or meal, hulls included .... 7.5 4.5 34.1 23.1 22.2 8.6
Peanut hulls ....... .......... .......... 7.2 3.6 6.9 43.6 37.2 1.2
Peanut vines, nuts removed ...... 9.5 8.21 9.61 24.3 45.3 3.1
Peanuts, whole plant ... ........ 7 6.6 13.1 24.5 34.71 13.3
Alfalfa hay 86 8.6 14.9' 28.3 37.3' 2.3
A lfalfa hay .......................................... . 8 61i 8.6' 14.91 28.31 37.31 2-3
Henry and Morrison. "Feeds and Feeding."
Peanut hay is relished by all kinds of livestock and is a par-
ticularly valuable feed for dairy cows. The refuse and in-
ferior nuts may all be used to advantage on the farm for feed-
ing hogs and other livestock, as the entire crop is of value for
feeding purposes. It therefore pays to exercise care in curing
the crop so that there will be no waste. The tops when used
for hay have a feeding value nearly equal to alfalfa. clover, or
cowpea hay. As a result of the handling of peanuts in the
cleaning factories, there are quantities of finely broken and
shriveled nuts that are sold for hog feed or ground into meal
to be.used in mixed feeds. The cake or meal resulting from the
(GROWSVING PEANUTrS IN FLORII)A
manufacture of peanut oil is equal to or better than the best
grade of cottonseed meal for feeding purposes.
DISEASES AND INSECTS
For information on diseases and insects of peanuts, write to
the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Gainesville, Fla.,
or the United States Department of Agriculture, Washington,