Group Title: Agronomy facts
Title: Perennial peanut establishment guide
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 Material Information
Title: Perennial peanut establishment guide
Series Title: Agronomy facts
Physical Description: 8 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: French, E. C
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Publisher: University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Place of Publication: <Fla.>
Publication Date: 1991
Subject: Peanuts   ( lcsh )
Arachis glabrata   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: <prepared by E.C. French, G.M. Pine>.
General Note: At head of title: Florida Co-operative Extension Service.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00083031
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 221239829

Full Text


Florida Cooperative Extension Service





August, 1991 SS-AGR-35

The purpose of this publication is to provide a guide for planting and establishing perennial
peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.). This guide does not address all possible situations, but serves as
a general procedural outline. In order to learn more about perennial peanut production, the authors
of this document encourage producers to use their inventiveness to enhance the production practices
suggested here as we strive to improve the success and speed of establishment.

Outline of Consideration for Perennial Peanut Establishment

A. Planting Site

1. Geographic Perennial peanut evolved under tropical conditions, however, it adapts well to
subtropical or warm temperate climates. In our northern hemisphere, this includes locations below
31* to 32 latitude which have a longer warm growing season (refer to plant hardiness map, Fig. 1).

2. Climatic Perennial peanut grows best in full sun. Specific rainfall requirements have not been
determined, however, it is grows best in Florida when days are long, hot, and humid. Irrigation has
proven beneficial during establishment in drought springs.

3. Soil Perennial peanut persists in a variety of well drained soil types and does well in the deep
sands of Florida. Rocky areas and high clay soil should be avoided if the objective is to produce
rhizomes for digging.

In northern production regions, clay soils with excess moisture may freeze during prolonged periods
with temperatures below 32F. Rhizomes located in the zone of frozen soil will be killed. Due to
this and the slow spread of rhizomes in clay soils, the selection of a well drained soil for planting is
particularly important in northern production regions.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research,
educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, or national origin.

US. Government Printing Office Washington D.C. 20402-9325:
Misc. Publication 1475:stock no. 001-000-04550-4

Recent experience has demonstrated that perennial peanut grows well in reclaimed phosphatic, highly
colloidal clay soil in South Central Florida. This research was conducted on an area with a 1 % slope
for drainage of surface water.

4. Fertilization The following recommendations for establishment of perennial peanut are based
on current research. Since perennial peanut is a legume with nitrogen-fixing capability, it does not
require the application of nitrogen. Soil tests should be made prior to planting. Apply 30 pounds
P205/acre when Mehlich-I soil test level is below 30 ppm P. Do not apply phosphorus fertilizer when
the soil tests above 30 ppm P. Apply 60 pounds K20/acre when Mehlich-I soil test level is below 20
ppm K, and zero potassium fertilizer when the soil tests above 20 ppm K. Apply 15 pounds
magnesium per acre if Mehlich-I soil test is below 30 ppm Mg. Nutrition should not be a production-
limiting factor on soils with Mehlich-I soil test levels near those suggested.

Although unconfirmed for perennial peanut, most legumes respond positively to applied sulfur. Based
on perennial peanut tissue analysis, 20-30 pounds of sulfate-form sulfur per acre should be applied
annually when the planting is intensively hayed.

Current observations indicate that perennial peanut performs well under a wide range of soil pH.
Modify soil pH only if measured pH is outside the 5.0 to 7.5 range.

5. Site History Post-plant weed problems are difficult to avoid, however, the problem can be
reduced if the production site is carefully selected and prepared prior to planting. Recently- cleared
woods usually offer a relatively weed-free setting during establishment, as well as naturally-
accumulated fertility. Land which has been intensively row-cropped with a good weed control
program offers fewer weed problems and may provide residual fertility. Low managed weedy areas
or old pasture land may require preparation six months or more prior to planting to achieve proper
weed control, fertility level, and a well-prepared seed bed.

Commercial Production Zones ,-
include the warmer portion of USDA hardiness
zone Ba and zones 8b,9 and above.

Fig. 1. Estimated Perennial Peanut growing zones for the southern U.S.
(based on USDA plant hardiness map and past or existing plantings)

Both research data and many years of experience have shown that soils with known disease or
nematode incidence do not negatively affect perennial peanut. Until otherwise determined there is no
need for concern over these problems.

6. Land Preparation Bottom plowing is generally needed as a first step in land preparation.
When beginning with sufficient anticipation prior to planting, forage sorghum or other tall competitive
crops can be grown to suppress weed growth and initiate the land preparation process. Watermelon
followed by sorghum in the same season followed by winter-planted perennial peanut has been
successful. Land preparation should begin during the summer prior to a winter planting to allow time
during the growing season for both chemical and mechanical weed control. Following the initial
bottom-plow operation and/or incorporation of a cover crop, repeated tillage with a disk-harrow is an
effective means of weed control. If perennial broadleaf weeds or grasses persist, use of a herbicide,
such as Roundup*, should be considered to eradicate this problem prior to first frost. With only a few
herbicides registered at this time for use on perennial peanut, it is necessary and more economical to
achieve good pre-plant weed control.

Land should be well prepared and idle by the first of November. This allows sufficient time for
breakdown of organic matter and accumulation of soil moisture prior to planting.

B. Planting Material (Rhizomes)

1. Cultivars Florigraze and Arbrook (described in Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Circular S-275 and S-332, respectively) are the two commercial cultivars currently available.
* Florigraze, released in 1978, has the greater acreage (approximately 4,600 acres in 1991) and is well
adapted to most well drained-soils in Florida. Arbrook, released in 1986, is recommended for
drought, excessively-drained sandy soils with warm winter temperatures as occur in peninsular
Florida. Planting stock of Florigraze is in good supply, while Arbrook, the more recent release, is
still limited in acreage.

Emergence and survival of Arbrook following planting under dry soil conditions is considered superior
to Florigraze. However, due to the difference in growth habit, lateral spread of Arbrook is slower
than Florigraze. This tendency to spread slowly is made worse when extensive hay making or grazing
is imposed prior to complete stand establishment. In general, Florigraze will withstand grazing better
than Arbrook. The stem of Arbrook is larger in diameter than Florigraze and can require up to one
extra day of drying under marginal drying conditions.

2. Source Perennial peanut is propagated vegetatively using rhizomes (modified underground
stems) which concentrate in a 11/V to 3 inch thick mat just below the soil surface. When planning to
plant, the first step is to locate a source of well-managed perennial peanut rhizomes to be dug. Your
county extension agent or the Perennial Peanut Producers Association (PPPA) (a non-profit
organization) can provide a current list of producers who sell, dig, and plant rhizomes. Since planting
normally takes place during January/February, planning, field preparation, location of rhizome
sources, and planting equipment or contacts with individuals who plant should begin during the
summer prior to winter planting. Advance planning has the added advantage of visual inspection
during the growing season of plant material to be planted.

3. Rhizome Harvesting Rhizomes are removed from the soil mechanically with a sprig harvester
and planted as individual rhizome pieces or as various sized sod pieces lifted with a sod lifter. Other
imaginative approaches can be used to remove rhizomes from the soil. Any method used should result
in individual rhizome pieces at least 9 inches long with minimal damage from the digging process.
A nursery harvested for its rhizomes should be ready to harvest again following 2-3 years of regrowth
under favorable conditions.

4. Nursery Area Required One acre of perennial peanut nursery should yield enough rhizomes
to plant 20-30 acres at a planting rate of 80 bu./A. Planting with sod generally requires more acres
of nursery to plant the same 20-30 acres as compared to sprigs. Area of sod nursery required depends
on size and spacing of sod pieces used at planting.

5. Rhizome Quality and Care No specific methodology has been established as a measurement
for rhizome quality, however, it is generally considered that Florigraze rhizomes with a diameter of
1/8 inch plus, and a minimum length of 9 inches, will result in good emergence and survival during
the dry spring months following planting. Diameter/vigor of the rhizomes is enhanced when grown
under good soil moisture and fertility conditions. Intensive hay making or grazing results in lower
rhizome production and decreased diameter of rhizomes.

Rhizomes should be planted as soon after digging as possible. Rhizomes cannot be stored for more
than five days without deterioration, even under the best conditions. Rhizomes should be stored in
a shady, cool location and covered with black plastic or a tarp to prevent drying while still providing
aeration. Rhizomes being transported should be covered with a tarp to prevent drying. They should
also be protected from freezing temperatures during transport and storage prior to planting.

Digging rhizomes during the cool temperatures of January and February minimizes overheating during
transport and storage. When rhizomes are subjected to heating in a stack, the plant material
deteriorates rapidly.

C. Planting

1. Time for Planting The best time for planting in in winter during January, February and March
when peanut is in a quiescent growing state. Winter-planted material emerges during late March to
early June which coincides with low rainfall over most of Florida. Normal spring rains are important
for proper root and top development. As shoots begin to emerge following a January-February
planting, under conditions of low soil moisture, a percentage of shoots will die due to lack of
supporting roots. The availability of irrigation during this initial development period provides
insurance against plant loss or complete stand failure. Once a root system has developed, irrigation
is not required.

The result of plant loss during a late spring drought period does not always mean stand failure.
Normally, a percentage of large diameter rhizomes will survive and result in an established plant.
Time to complete stand coverage increases as plant population decreases. If a sufficient number of
plants survive to leave at least one plant every 3 feet in any direction, complete coverage may result
by the end of the second or third year. Wider than 3 feet between plants will take longer for complete
coverage and a shorter distance less time, assuming other management practices are observed.

* Winter is usually the best time to plant perennial peanut, however, planting may be successful anytime
* up to mid July. A late-season planting has two disadvantages: (1) the planting may require an extra
year to achieve full coverage, and (2) the rhizome nursery may require an extra year to completely
recover from digging.

2. Planting Rate If rainfall is satisfactory, a winter planting can provide complete ground
coverage in one to two years, using a planting rate of 80 bushels (100 ft3) of rhizomes per acre.
Under drought and other stresses, such as high weed competition, a higher planting rate may be
desirable to compensate for plant loss. If rhizomes can be obtained at a low cost, 100-120 bushels
(125-150 ft3) of rhizomes planted/A. will ensure a satisfactory plant stand.

Calibration of the planter may be necessary to achieve the desired number of bushels planted per acre.
Calibration begins by checking the number of bushels planted in a given number of acres. Calculation
for this determination requires the volume of loosely packed rhizomes contained in each planter load
multiplied by the number of loads planted per acre. With this, the number of bushels or cubic feet
planted per acre can be calculated (1.25 ft3 = 1 bushel) and adjustments to the planter made if

When planting rhizomes by broadcast-disk or hand method, an approximate planting rate can be
achieved by calculating the volume of rhizome material hauled to field and planted. However, hauling
by truck or trailer results in compaction of rhizomes, therefore, this must be considered when
calculating planting rate.

* A fewer number of Arbrook rhizomes are contained per bushel as compared to Florigraze.
Additionally, Arbrook grows laterally at a slower rate than Florigraze. In order to achieve ground
coverage using Arbrook that approximates that of Florigraze, 25% more rhizome material should be
planted per acre.

If rapid establishment is important, planting rate and level of management must be considered together.
The addition of water, fertilizer, and weed control are all important inputs that can be employed to
maximize plant population during the first growing season. However, an increase in planting rate can
substitute to some degree for less than intensive management.

3. Planting Methods Several systems can be used for planting rhizomes. Bermuda sprig planters
are used most commonly. This planter opens furrows, places rhizomes in the furrows at a determined
rate, closes furrows, and packs the soil. The fairway type sprig planter is a relatively recent addition
to the list of planting methods. This form of planting replaces the opening of furrows with 2 gangs
of closely spaced blunt-edged rolling disks that push rhizomes into the soil at the prescribed rate and
planting depth. This system of planting achieves adequate plant distribution; however, a percentage
of rhizomes not completely embedded into the soil and will be lost due to drying. Excellent results
have been achieved with this planter, especially where irrigation is available. Planting can be achieved
without equipment by hand placing individual rhizome pieces in furrows and covering, or by
broadcasting and disk-harrowing rhizomes into the soil. Due to the inaccuracy of depth control when
planting by the broadcast-disk method, planting rate should be increased 25%.

Regardless of planting system, it is important to place the rhizomes no more than IV/ to 2 inches deep.
One to 1 /2 inch planting depth is generally sufficient in clay soil. Arbrook appears to be less sensitive

to planting depth than Florigraze. Excellent shoot emergence can be achieved with Arbrook rhizomes
planted at a 2 inch depth. Planting should be followed by a packing-roller which leaves the field level,
preserves soil moisture and achieves good rhizome soil contact.

When planting sod pieces, a flat furrow is formed in which rhizome mats are placed at a depth
equivalent to their original growing position. Because much of the soil in the sod will fall out during
handling and transport, soil from the furrow should be spread around and over the sod pieces,
preventing desiccation and/or freeze damage from exposure. As with other planting methods, a
packing-roller should be used following sod planting.

Distance between planted rows of sprigged material will vary with the equipment used, but 18 to 24
inches will result in a first season coverage if other factors are not limiting. As a general rule,
coverage time will decrease as distance between rows decreases. Rhizome mats dug with a sod lifter
or other means can be planted 4 to 6 feet apart in every direction and still achieve coverage in a
reasonable amount of time.

The advantage of using sod over sprigs is realized when planting in a nonirrigated field during a dry
year. The undisturbed integral system of rhizomes and roots characteristic of sod provides greater
survival capability during the dry periods that may occur prior to the formation of a root system.
Handling cost for sod usually increases the establishment cost over sprigging.

Common with all legumes, perennial peanut obtains its nitrogen from Rhizobium species bacteria
associated with the plant's root system. Many agriculturally important legumes planted by seed are
inoculated with bacteria at planting to ensure adequate infection of the plant by the bacteria and a
subsequent adequate supply of nitrogen. Because perennial peanut is propagated by rhizomes which
carry the bacteria, it is not necessary to inoculate the rhizomes at planting under normal conditions.

D. Cost Considerations

The expense of establishing perennial peanut varies widely from as little as $200 per acre to $500
per acre. Cost is, in part, a result of producer's needs and resource availability. Many factors
influence cost including acreage planted (scale of operation), rhizome source, cost of land, equipment,
labor, and interest rate on borrowed money. Level of management has a direct influence on cost and
changes as practices implemented vary. For example, intensity of weed control and fertilizer applied
have significant effect on establishment cost. Opportunity cost should be weighed carefully when
considering that, under normal conditions, time to production can be shortened by 1-2 years as
management level increases.

Relative to other forage crops, perennial peanuts can be expensive to establish, however, lower
production costs and higher returns (refer to Agronomy Facts, Number SS-AGR-935, November 1,
1989) over the long term should be important considerations.

Table 1 represents the primary cost variables to consider for the first year of establishment. These
costs vary depending on an individual situations and the market price for required inputs. The table
has been left blank to serve as a worksheet for individual assessment of costs.

Table 1. Inputs to be considered in calculating cost of perennial peanut establishment.

Item Unit Quantity Price Value
Cash Expenses:

Custom sprigging
Land preparation

Hired labor
Interest on cash expenses
Total Cash Expenses:
Fixed Costs:
Tractor and equipment

General overhead
Total Fixed Costs:

In some counties of Florida, USDA-ASCS (United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural
Stabilization and Conservation Service) has increased the level of cost sharing for the establishment
of perennial peanut. Local ASCS offices can provide specific information.

E. Post-Plant Management

1. Sand Blast Prevention Late winter and early spring winds cause significant sand blast damage
to new emerging plants in open fields. Severe sand blasting can completely kill all top growth. Such
an event is followed by weak plant recovery. This can be prevented simply by planting single or
double rows of rye every 8-10 feet across the field perpendicular to prevailing winds. This should
be done immediately following winter planting.

2. Irrigation Lack of soil moisture is most critical from shoot initiation of the rhizome until a
supporting root system develops. Under conditions of low soil moisture the application of water
insures plant survival and growth. Soil-plant moisture status should be carefully monitored during the
spring months following planting. Irrigation should be considered if it is available. Always locate
your field near an irrigation source if that option exists.

3. Weed Control Weed control constitutes the major management practice during the first and
possibly the second growing season. Eliminating competitive weeds ensures greater survival during
the dry months prior to summer rainfall and allows the plants to grow and spread more rapidly.

Mowing is important in the fight against weeds. Keeping the perennial peanut canopy clear for
maximum sunlight penetration is critical to proper development. Mowing is effective for controlling
canopy height of tall growing weeds. Whenever possible, mow weeds just above the foliage of the
developing peanut. Competition from short growing annual weeds can be reduced by mowing both
weeds and peanuts as close to soil as possible. This practice can be done once during the growing
season in late July or early August. For grassy weeds such as crabgrass, bermudagrass, and
bahiagrass, Fusilade and PoastO herbicides are cleared for use during establishment, but as presently
labeled, forage should not be harvested in any form for up to one year following application.

Winter overseeding of perennial peanut with a small grain and/or annual ryegrass can provide grazing,
grain, or hay, as well as good control of many winter weeds. Winter overseeding has the added
advantage of protecting an established stand from freeze damage during extreme cold periods which
may occur in northern perennial peanut zones.

Basagran is effective for control of yellow nutsedge as well as a few other selected broadleaved
weeds. It is cleared for use on perennial peanut during establishment and, like the two previously
mentioned grass herbicides, forage should not be harvested in any form for up to one year following
application. Work will continue toward obtaining a greater spectrum of chemical weed control means,
many of which are presently used on the common eating peanut.

Prepared by: E. C. French G. M. Prine
Extension Agrono t Agronomist

Acknowledgment: We would like to thank Dr. G. Kidder, Extension Soil Specialist, Soil Science
Department, IFAS, University of Florida, for his contribution in developing the
included fertility recommendations.

Herbicide recommendations in this report are contingent upon their continued registration by the
Environmental Protection Agency. If a registration is cancelled, the herbicide will no longer be

The use of product trade names does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the products named and a
does not signify approval to the exclusion of similar products. .

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