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g g INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES COOPERATIVE
IFAS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA EXTENSION SERVICE
(uWannee Valley farming
vol. 2 SPECIAL EDITION Nov.
No. 6 1985
PERENNIAL PEANUT: A HIGH QUALITY, LOW COST FORAGE
M. E. Swisher, Multi-County Agent
E. C. French, Agronomist
Live Oak Agricultural Research and Education Center
Rt. 2, Box 2181, Live Oak, FL 32060
Perennial peanut is a warm season forage legume. It is related to
the "eating" peanut, but does not form a nut. The plant comes from the
Amazon River Basin in South America. This far north, it produces forage
during the warm season from March through November and dies back and goes
dormant during the winter months. Perennial peanut cannot be grown very
far north of the Georgia state line,
lWUil It Make. Money?
We think so. Perennial peanut compares well
with alfalfa in terms of quality, and the same peo-
ple who buy alfalfa hay can use peanut hay. Major
markets are dairies and horse farms.
Alfalfa sells for an average of $190 per ton
I in Florida. Undercutting alfalfa, we can sell pea-
nut hay for $100 to $150 per ton. Table 1 (Page 2)-
shows the cost per acre for producing peanut hay.
Table 2 (Page 2) shows the potentiat net patoit pet
acAe at various yields and selling prices for the
hay. Moderate yields of 4 tons of hay per acre show a potential profit of
$105 to $305 peA acre, depending on selling price.
What's Good about Petennia Peanut?
It's a peAenniat. Unlike alfalfa, you only need to plant it once.
One of our peanut fields at the Live Oak AREC is 10 years old and still
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research,
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COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS, STATE OF FLORIDA, IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF
FLORIDA, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AND BOARDS OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COOPERATING
_~ ~~ _
EtWmanted Co&st o Ptodueang One AeAe. o6 PeAennWi Pewanut Hay
Tractor and Machinery
Twine (Small Bales).
Interest on Cash Expenaenss
Total Cash Expenses
Tractor and Machinery
Establishment (Prorated Over 10 Years)
Total Fixed Costs
1At 13% Interest
Potentia.t Poit PeA. AcAe Ao Peienneial Peanut Ha.( at
.Vaws.ous alets and Seting PaiceA
Potential Profit PeA AcAe
Yield To Produce $100/Ton $120/Ton $150/Ton
3 $97.86 $ 6.42 $ 66.42 $156.42
4 73.40 106.40 186.40 306.40
5 58.72 206.40 306.40 456.40
Once e;tabti~hed, it' veAL drought togteranft. Like "eating" peanuts,
perennial peanut grows well on sands and does poorly on heavier soils. It
puts down a deep taproot and established stands rarely suffer from lack
of water, even during long dry spells.
Petenniat peanut doe .
not need nitwgen e4vttzeAL .z
Being a legume, this plant d. iR '-",".
makes its own nitrogen, Ni- .
trogen fertilizer costs can '
run up to $75 per acre for iI
bermuda fields. This cost is ';' '.
eliminated with perennial .-
The quaLWtt o0 peanut hGa i & lgh, on samples of hay from Taylor
County, crude protein ran 16.184. Normal ranges are from 15 to 18%.
Total digestible nutrients on those samples ran 60.13%..This compares
well to alfalfa and far exceeds the quality commonly found for grass
hay -- without applying nitrogen. Livestock love it.
To date, pe1tennia peant hat not zuted any economic. to~e~& rom
pe4t o/ dtw6i46. It will be vary surprising if insects, in particular,
ignore perennial peanut forever. Nonetheless, in 20 years of experimental
work no pests or diseases have appeared that represent economically sig-
Whatt, the Catch?
8 pukepased to ght lteed5 Perennial peanut is slow to produce
above-ground growth during its first growing season. This slow early
growth is the major problem with establishment and you mst be pepatled
to mow and/orl appty hetbicide du'"hg that uA4t 4ummeA. Perennial pea-
nut is a hardy plant. We've seen it survive even when "planted and for-
gotten." But you need good management during establishment if you want to
get a full stand within 18 months of planting.
SuAviving that 6 ,ist May dAy .eauon can be Aough. we plant per-
ennial peanut in the winter. It begins to emerge in April -- and it usu-
ally turns dry in May. This reduces stands in -most years, and in the
spring of 1985 resulted in failure of some newly planted stands. This is
a risk that must be kept in mind. YOWu best bet 6o& inA6unlag a&Wviva i
to keep the weed com pettton down.
Since perennial peanut does not produce seed, i t arust be planted
omRn vegetative mat calat -, ah.izome. Rhizomes must'be dug while the
peanut is dormant during the winter. The only efficient way that we
have found for digging rhizomes is to use a bermuda sprig digger. We also
usually use a bermuda sprig planter, but you can successfully plant the
rhizomes by spreading them out and discing them under -- just as many peo-
ple plant bermuda.
The Suwznee VaeLey RctaC. Gtowes2 & ViJeAtoky lists some vendors
of rhizomes and custom operators who can sprig for you. The Vite.toty is
available from the Live Oak AREC (362-1725), Columbia County Extenmion 0-
6ice (752-5384), or Suwanee County Exten&ion 6Oice (362-2771).
E6tabt.tihment i6 expensive. Sellers are currently getting $2.25 to
$2.50 per bushel for rhizomes (already dug).. In on-farm trials in the
Suwannee Valley, we've got our best stands at a seeding rate of 80 bushels
per acre. So -- planting costs (see Table 3, Page 5).
But, there are two things to remember. First, you only need to
plant once. Second, even assuming the establishment costs in Table 3,
which includes interest, the cost of owning machinery, and so on, you can
still get your money back during the first full year of production. For
other high value, perennial crops such as grapes, blueberries, or pecans,
the grower must wait much longer to recover his investment.
You can avoid mucd o the co6t oa estabbtiehment by deveoplng yowu
own WLurAey. Each acre of mature perennial peanut provides enough rhizomes
to plant another 20 to 30 acres. Digging rhizomes doat not kill your nur-
sery, although you will have to provide extra care to get it back into pro-
duction after digging. If you keep your nursery in good condition, you can
dig rhizomes every other year. Selling rhizomes can provide another source
The University of Florida's. Tvtitute
oa Food and AgtLcutttuuwa ScienceA (IFA. has a
cooperative program for establishing nurseries-
with growers in the Suwannee Valley. In this
program, IFAS provides rhizomes and will plant
the material (up to 2 acres). The grower Zs re-
sponsible for all other costs of establishment. Once
the stand is mature, the grower is asked to provide rhi-
zomes from 1/2 of the nursery acreage to TFAS (first dig-
ging only) for further plantings. This program operates
on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are inter-'' -a
ested, call your County Agent o0 Mickie Sta6heA at tihe -
Live Oak AREC. .
If you are interested in planting perennial pea-
nut, please ask for our Special Edition of Sumuanee VattEL Favming called
"Planting Perennial Peanut." It's available from your County ExtenaOr
Oj6Lee or the Live Oak AREC.
Eatimauted Co.6t o6 EatabLlwis ing One Acte o6 PeAenniat Peanut
Tractor and Equipment (For Land Preparation) 6.43
Custom Planting 25.00
Tractor and Machinery (For Weed Control, Including Mowing) 11.64
Pickup Truck 2.40.
Labor (Land Preparation and Weed Control). 15.75
Land Rent 20.00
Interest on Cash Expenses1 45.23
Total Cash Expenses 393.12
Tractor $ 17,28
Pickup Truck 3.00
Total Fixed Costs 28.83
TOTAL COSTS $421.95
1At 13% Interest
Family Famu SeAles, Suwanmee VaU2ey Faprnng, No. 2, Novemnbet, 1985
Ue oS trade name does not conatLtute a guaantee r o wmanwany oj pAoductA
named and doe. not &ignigy approval to the exceu.ion o6 .imUeaA p)Lduct.