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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
2'Agronomy Research Report AY 80-6 January 1980
-( Department of Agronomy
Agricultural Experiment Station, IFAS
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611
Growing Perennial Peanuts for Rhizomes ---- I
G. M. Prine
Perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.) is a long-lived perennial,
warm season legume that is adapted to well-drained soils through ut-Florida..
The perennial peanut is useful for hay production and/or can be dsedas--~i-
ture. It is the only perennial forage legume presently known which will per-
sist on drought sands of which there are several million acres in Florida.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations and Soil Conservation Service (SCS)
have jointed released 'Florigraze' perennial peanut in 1978. The purpose of
this report is to give information to growers of propagating material of
Florigraze and also of Arblick and Arb perennial peanuts which were named and
distributed in state by the SCS.
Florigraze perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.) is a long-lived
perennial forage legume adapted to well-drained soils southward from about the
31st parallel in USA. In a 4-year study (2) Florigraze, Arb and Arblick
perennial peanuts had average annual hay yields of 4.6, 3.9 and 2.3 tons/acre
(10.3, 8.7 and 5.2 metric tons/ha), respectively. The hays had average in
vitro organic matter digestibilities of 62.2, 60.8 and 57.0% and crude pro-
tein contents of 14.0, 13.5 and 12.8%, respectively. Florigraze in mixture
with Pensacola bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge) averaged 4.7 tons acre
(10.6 metric tons/ha) of hay annually over a 5-year period without any appli-
cation of nitrogenous fertilizer. A Florigraze-Pensacola bahiagrass mixture
was grazed closely by cattle for 6 years without reducing peanuts stand.
Florigraze has persisted and remained productive for 12 years after planting.
Similar persistence has been shown by other perennial plant cultivars.
Under good growing conditions Florigraze and other perennial peanut cultivars
will fix 200 to 300 pounds per acre (224 to 336 kg/ha) of nitrogen per.annum.
The perennial peanut is propagated by rhizomes which are best planted
during the winter season (January, February, and early March) while the top
Professor, University of Florida, IFAS, Agronomy Department, Gainesville,
FL 32611. Phone (904) 392-1811.
growth is dormant. The growing season is the same as that for bermudagrass
which is also often propagated by rhizomes. The rhizomes of bermudagrass have
lots of potential buds when broken up while short rhizomes of perennial peanuts
have few buds and develop few shoots per rhizomes piece. The establishment year
perennial peanut growth is slow and conditions must be favorable for rapid
coverage. The peanut spreads try sending rhizomes into vacant areas from origi-
nal hill. These rhizomes only begin to develop about August after planting in
winter. The larger the amount of rhizomes planted, the more top growth is
developed the first season, and the more rhizome growth in the fall of planting
year. Small plants often make no rhizomes or only short rhizomes the first
season so coverage is reduced. Establishment research has indicated that the
surface coverage of well-managed peanut can be readily increased 25 to 40 times
and sometimes 200 times (1) during the establishment year if planted in winter.
This means that one acre of rhizomes can only plant 25 to 40 acres (10 to 16 ha)
if coverage is expected the first season. We have also found the rhizome
system is usually developed enough for digging, one growing season after the
fall in which complete coverage is obtained. Under the very best conditions,
it is two years from planting perennial peanuts until rhizomes are developed
enough to dig. The rhizome system continues to increase in quantity to 5 or 6
years of age. Older rhizomes are larger in diameter and the rhizome mat is
denser so that pulling apart is difficult. Two or three year old rhizomes
make best planting material.
When digging rhizomes, the entire surface area maybe dug and the peanut
can reestablish from rhizomes not removed in the digging operation. The area
should be leveled and managed like a new planting. In two years, the rhizomes
should be ready for digging again. Another way is to dig the rhizomes in
alternate 20 to 60 inch (50 to 150 cm) strips, taking and out a strip one
winter and leaving the alternate strip for digging in the next winter. The
strip not dug can be several inches narrower than the dug strip as spread is
excellent from established strips. For example, a 20 inch (50 cm) dug strip
may alternate with a 15 inch (38 cm) undug strip or a 60 inch (150 cm) dug
strip with a 50 inch (127 cm) undug strip. This latter method gives rhizomes
for propagating and sale every year with a added advantage that spread is
faster from the established (undug) strips than from completely dug areas.
Undug strips compete with weeds better than dug areas, so weed problem may be
less with the alternate row method.
Special Needs for Commercial Rhizome.Grower
1. Well-drained sandy soil. Flatwoods or other poorly-drained soils are
unsatisfactory. Soils with large rocks or high clay content are also
undesirable because rhizomes can not be separated from soil easily.
2. Soils should be free of perennial grasses and noxious weeds.
3. Rhizome digging equipment. One- or two-row potato diggers can be modified
into a satisfactory rhizome digger. Commercial bermudagrass sprig dig
gers will also work but will break up rhizomes into too small pieces for
vigorous growth in planting season.
4. Capital and land enough to wait several years for return on investment.
5. Managerial skills need for planting, fertilizing, controlling weeds and
6. Commercial rhizome grower should plant as large an area of peanuts as it
is possible to get planting material so expense of growing and digging
can be spread over more area.
Planting Procedures for Perennial Peanut
A few rules for successful planting are as follows:
1. Plant perennial peanuts only in well-drained soils. Do not plant
in flatwoods soils or any soil which does not drain within a few
hours following heavy rainfall. Coverage is slow in heavy clay
where erosion has removed top soil. Do not plant peanut in rocky
soil or soil with high clay content if you plan to dig rhizomes.
2. Select soils which are not infested with perennial grasses such as
bahiagrass and bermudagrass. It is also helpful if soils have low
weed populations. Particularly to be avoided are the leguminous
weeds such as Florida beggarweed, hairy indigo, and alyceclover,
that are resistent to 2,4-DB herbicide. New ground is recommended
where one plans to dig rhizomes.
3. Fertilize soil broadcast with 300 to 500 pounds/acre (336 to 560 kg/ha)
of 0-10-20 (N-P205-K20) fertilizer. Fertilizer should also supply
sulfur at rate of 16 to 20 pounds per acre annually. Lime soil to
pH 5.8 to 6.5 and CaO and MgO levels of at least 750 and 100 pounds/
acre (840 and 112 kg/ha), respectively. Minor elements application
is needed on many soils. Application of complete minor element
mixture, such as 20 pounds/acre (22 kg/ha) of FTE 503, is recommended
before planting if the soil's minor element status is unknown.
Harrow or plow fertilizer and lime into soil before planting. Do
not apply nitrogen to perennial peanut as it reduces rhizome growth
and encourages weed competition. Top dressing with 250 to 300 pounds/
acre (280 to 336 kg/ha) of 0-10-20 or 0-10-30 (N-KI20-P205) fertilizer
in August is desirable.
4. Plant rhizomes 2 to 3 inches(5 to 7.6 cm) deep in heavy soils and 3
3 inches (7.6 to 8.9 cm) deep in sands during winter months (Mid-
December to Mid-March) when peanut topgrowth is usually dormant.
We usually open a furrow with a middle buster, place the peanut
rhizomes and inoculant in the furrow and then cover rhizomes with
two bedding discs followed by a smoothing board. However, any way
you can get peanut rhizomes into soil to proper depth will probably
work satisfactorily. It is important to completely cover the rhizomes
as part of rhizome protruding above soil can dry out and kill the
rhizome. The soil over rhizomes should be level with surrounding
soil or slightly ridged. Smooth land makes for easy mowing and
herbicide application later.
5. The spacing for hills of peanut rhizomes is arbitrary and often
depends upon the quantity of rhizome available. Rhizomes are
usually dug as square or rectangular mats from one to two square
feet in size. These rhizome mats should be broken gently into 4
or more parts, each consisting of several rhizomes. Planting
these separated parts 3 feet (91 cm) apart in rows 3 feet (91 cm)
apart should good coverage after first season. Lay rhizome parts
naturally, the long way along the row. Cover rhizomes within a few
minutes of planting in soil. Generally the closer the hills and
more rhizomes you plant per hill, the quicker is complete coverage
of the soil surface.
6. Inoculate the peanuts by applying granular peanut inoculation
directly over peanut rhizomes with granular applicator just
before covering with soil. Shakers made by punching nail holes
in top of a screw top can or jar, make a satisfactory applicator
for applying granular inoculant to small plantings. Five pounds
of inoculant per acre is satisfactory for most commercial granu-
lar inoculant formulations.
7. Do not leave rhizomes in direct sun more than few minutes in
digging or planting as they will dry out and die. Wet down
loosely packed rhizomes soon after being dug and keep moist until
planted. Cover rhizomes with tarp in storage and when transport-
ing to protect from wind and sun. Plant rhizomes as soon as
possible after being dug, for best results. However, we have kept
dug rhizomes up to 7 days during winter months before planting with
8. Rapid coverage of perennial peanuts often depends upon how well weeds
are controlled. If herbicides fail to control weeds and weeds over
story the peanut, then cut off weeds periodically just above the
peanut foliage with a mower. For maximum coverage avoid grazing or
mowing off peanut foliage until after frost the planting season.
Flat cultivation of middles between peanut rows is permissible until
August of first planting season if peanut plants are not disturbed.
9. The first season, peanut growth is confined to the original hills
until about first of August. Then rhizomes should begin to grow
out from the original plants and you should see an occasional new
plant emerging from the soil a few inches to several feet from
original plants. Favorable weather for rhizome spread in fall is
warm weather and good rainfall. If irrigation is available, appli-
cation of about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week as rainfall and/or
irrigation during September and October will aid in spread of the
10. Herbicides we have tried and found useful in controlling weeds in
establishing perennial plants grown for rhizomes follows:
Trade Name and Broad- Common Name and Broad-
cast Rate/Acre (Rate/ha) cast Rate/Acre (Rate/ha) Weeds Controlled
of Commercial Product of Active Ingredient and Remarks
Balan benefin Annual grasses and also
3-4 qts. 1.13-1.5 Ibs. hard-to-control grasses
(7.0-9.4 liters/ha) (1.27-1.68 kg/ha) such as sandbur, signal-
grass and Texas panicum.
Good control of Florida
pusley and pigweed. In-
corporate into the soil
to a depth of 2-3 inches
(5-7.6 cm) within 8 hours
after application. May be
applied anytime within 10
weeks prior to planting up
to the day of planting.
Good control of annual
grasses and certain
broadleaf weeds. Poor
control of cocklebur,
morningglory, and rag-
thoroughly according to
Suppresses nutsedge. Con-
trols most annual grasses,
Fla. pusley and pigweed.
Tank mix with trifluralin
or benefin for best broad
spectrum control. Incor-
porate into the soil to a
depth of 3 inches (7.6 cm)
immediately after applica-
tion. If possible, combine
application and incorpora-
tion in the same operation.
At Shoot Emergence After Planting and in Spring
Premerge 3 dinoseb
4 to 8 qts 3 to 6 lbs
(9.3 to 18.7 liters/ha) (3.4 to 6.7 kg/ha)
Excellent control of
emerged seedling weeds
with preemergence con-
control of annual grasses
and broadleaf weeds. Use
high rate of alachlor if
Fla. beggarweed is a prob-
lem. Apply when one or
more new shoot appears on
25 to 50 percent of plan-
ted hills. Peanuts that
emerge a few days prior
to treatment may be in-
jured but should recover
with little or no reduc-
tion in final peanut growth
Controls many broadleaf
weeds including morning-
glory and cocklebur.
No effect on Florida beg-
garweed. Apply 2 to 12
weeks after planting. A
second application may be
made 3 weeks later. After
peanut establishment, can
be used as needed except
should not apply more
than 1.5 Ibs./A (1.68
kg/ha) 2,4-DB per annum.
Do not apply to drought
Other herbicides recommended for common peanut may be effective in
controlling weeds in perennial peanut, but the above are the only ones we
have tried to date. If peanut is to be used for hay or pasture, use only
herbicides which allow this practice.
Either graze frosted peanut top growth closely at time of killing frost or
mow or burn off anytime the top growth is completely dead. Burning off is
recommended in digging season if potato diggers are used. It may be necessary
to leave some stubble on plants to help in carrying rhizomes up elevators, if
rhizomes are dug with bermudagrass digger. Application of tank mixture of 2.0
to 3.0 pounds per acre (2.24 to 3.36 kg/ha) a.i. alachlor and 3 to 6 pounds per
acre (3.4 to 6.7 kg/ha) a.i. dinoseb at shoot emergence of peanut in spring
will usually control both winter weeds and early spring weeds. Apply lime
during winter when it is needed. Fertilize in early March with 300 pound per
acre (336 kg/ha) of 0-10-20 or 0-10-30 fertilizer containing 16 pounds of
sulfur. If fertilized and limed before digging rhizomes the digging will work
lime and fertilizer into soil.
The second season after planting or after digging rhizomes, the peanut may
be grazed lightly [do not graze closer than 3 inches (7.6 cm)] from start of
summer rainy season (late May to June usually) until about August 1 in north
Florida to August 15 in south Florida. Then remove cattle, mow any tall weeds,
spray broadleaf weeds with 2,4-DB and fertilize with 300 pounds per acre (336
kg/ha) of 0-10-20 or 0-10-30 fertilizer. Then do not graze or mow off peanut
top growth until frost. Tall weeds can be mown just above the peanut top
growth. Another alternative is to cut a hay crop in July or early August in-
stead of grazing. If growth is sufficient to cut hay by about 20th of June then
a second cutting of hay should be possible in early August. The period from
August to frost is the critical time in production of rhizomes. After frost,
the top growth can be grazed off or harvested as hay.
Methods of Marketing Rhizomes
There are two obvious ways in which the peanut rhizomes might be marketed
The first is on basis of the area of rhizome mat dug. The other way is on
basis a volume measure of rhizomes such as bushel or cubic foot or cubic
meter. Because of difficulty in packing, a bushel basket of peanut rhizomes
should be heaped up. Some growers will probably want to both grow and plant
rhizomes; contracting to plant peanut rhizomes on other farmer's land by the
acre during the winter months.
Rhizome Market Potential
The Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., P. O. Box 309, Greenwood, FL
32443 [Phone (904) 594-4721], will have available only enough rhizomes during
January and February 1979, 1980 and 1981 to plant a total 'of about 100 acres
(40 ha) of Florigraze. Only small acreages of Arb and Arblick are known to
exist. This 100 acres (40 ha) of Florigraze in two years would only plant
about 3,500 to 4,000 acres( 1400 to 1600 ha).
If all these peanuts were grown for rhizomes, in two more years an acreage
of 65,000 to 164,000 acres (26,000 to 66,000 ha) might be planted. However,
it is thought that many of these peanuts may not be dug for rhizomes, and so
if only 25% are dug then the acreage planted would be 16,250 to 41,000. acres
(6,600 to 16,500 ha) after 4 years. The potential acreage for perennial
peanuts in Florida exceeds 1/2 million acres (200,000 ha) and the warmer areas
of Georgia, Alabama and other Southern states another 100,000 acres (40,000
ha). Some demand for rhizomes should also develop in subtropical and tropical
countries around the world as the forage potential of perennial peanut becomes
more widely known.
1. Adjei, M. B. and G. M. Prine. 1976. Establishment of perennial peanuts
(Arachis glabrata Benth). Soil and Crop Sci. Soc. Fla Proc. 35:50-53.
2. Prine, G. M. 1972. Perennial peanuts.for forage. Soil and.Crop Sci.
Soc. Fla. Proc. 32:33-35.