COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE FOR WOMEN
AND UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
A. P. SPENCER, Director
PRODUCING PEANUTS IN FLORIDA
By J. LEE SMITH
Agronomist, Florida Agricultural Extension Service
The peanut is a legume which produces its pods an inch or 2
underground. There are 2 types commonly grown in Florida:
The bunch, represented by the small white Spanish, and the run-
ner, commonly called Florida, Georgia, Virginia or North Caro-
lina runners. The vines are used for hay and the nuts for food,
oil and hog fattening feed. Because of its wide use and adapta-
Fig. 1.-Peanuts, always important, are particularly necessary during
tion, more of Florida's crop land is devoted to peanut production
than to any other crop except corn. It is grown alone and in com-
bination with corn. When grown in combination the yield of
corn is reduced very little and the total crop value per acre is
SELECTION AND PREPARATION OF SOIL
Peanuts can be grown on nearly all well drained soils in north-
ern Florida, and west from Dixie and Marion counties, inclusive,
but sandy loam and sandy clay loams are best adapted. The
heavy clay soils will produce good yields but are harder to work.
Harvesting is more difficult on clay soils. Peanuts will make a
fair yield on land too poor for many other field crops. Deep sandy
lands will produce poor yields and are likely to produce unfilled
pods or "pops". Flatwoods soils are not generally adapted. If
possible, fields should be selected that were well fertilized the
previous year or on which a legume was returned to the soil.
The land should be flatbroken and all vegetation turned under
sufficiently in advance of planting that it will be well decayed.
All coarse, slow-decaying vegeation should be turned deep. If
any is left on the surface it should be removed, since it will inter-
fere with cultivation. The land should be reworked or rehar-
rowed just prior to planting, thus killing all grass and weeds and
leaving the surface clean. A well prepared clean seedbed will
insure a better stand and reduce cultivation costs.
STANDS AND SEED REQUIRED
Peanut rows should be as close together as can be conveniently
cultivated on the type of soil and with the machinery used.
Width of rows and spacing in drill will determine the amount of
seed required. Quantity and quality of seed used will largely
determine the stand secured which, probably more than any
other factor, will determine yield. Approximately 2 bushels in
the hull or 35 pounds of shelled runner seed per acre should be
used when planting solid. This is sufficient to plant in 30-inch
rows and spaced 6 to 8 inches in the drill. Three bushels or 50
pounds of shelled Spanish seed are required per acre, providing
for planting in 24-inch rows and spaced from 3 to 5 inches in the
drill. As one uses less seed or increases width of row or distance
between plants, yield and profits will likely be reduced, regardless
of season or amount of fertilizer used. If peanuts are grown in
combination with corn, the same distance between rows and spac-
ing in drill may be used and corn put in every third or fourth
row, the spacing of corn depending on what the land "will carry".
If peanuts and corn are grown in alternate rows, the same drill
spacing for peanuts should be used but width of rows should be
FERTILIZING AND SOIL TREATMENT
Results of fertilizer experiments in various parts of the state
show that yields can be increased by a direct application of a
complete fertilizer or a mixture of phosphate and potash. The
increase secured has been but very little more, usually, than
enough to off-set the cost of fertilizers. It is more desirable to
grow peanuts on land following a crop that was well fertilized.
If only a moderate amount of fertilizer was used on the land the
previous year, 300 to 400 pounds of 0-14-5 or a mixture of 300
Fig. 2.-Thick spacing, seed treatment, proper soils and cultivation make
for fine fields of peanuts like this.
pounds of superphosphate and 60 to 75 pounds of muriate of
potash may be used. On poor soils and on soils where no or very
little fertilizer was used the previous year, an application of 300
to 400 pounds of a 2-10-4 fertilizer per acre can be used to a better
advantage. The application should be made at or before time of
Where peanuts ordinarily do not fill well produce "pops" -
an application of 200 pounds per acre of landplaster or gypsum
(calcium sulphate) should be used under them or on top at or
just before pegging down.
SEED AND SEED TREATMENT
Plump, hand-shelled disinfected seed give most satisfactory
stands and yields. They germinate best and produce the most
vigorous plants. Fewer seedlings die.
Where large acreages are to be planted satisfactory stands and
yields can be secured from machine-shelled seed properly disin-
fected. "Pegs" or immature, undersized seed can be used but
very seldom will they give satisfactory results. Unshelled seed,
unless seasonal and soil conditions are exactly right, are never
All peanut seed, especially when machine-shelled, should be
treated with some disinfectant dust to kill the spores of the seed-
borne diseases. They may be treated with the same equipment
used in dusting cotton seed. Three ounces of 2% ceresan, 2
ounces of arasan, or 3 ounces of spergon to each 100 pounds of
shelled seed will be sufficient. Arasan and spergon are relatively
non-poisonous to man and animals and may be applied in excess
doses without injury to peanut seed.
Fig. 3.-Good harvests of peanuts can be obtained when the nuts are
Artificial inoculation of peanuts is not necessary, since Florida
soils are naturally inoculated, although on newly cleared lands it
may give increased yields.
Medium early planting of peanuts gives better yields than
extremely early or late planting. In the northern part of the
state peanuts may be planted as early as the middle of March
and as late as the middle of June. Late peanuts are often dam-
aged by caterpillars.
If the land is flatbroken and fertilizer is used, rows should be
marked off the proper distance and a small furrow opened with
a bull tongue scooter or a very small shovel. If fertilizer is used
it may be applied in this furrow or in the planting furrow. Over
this mark or furrow a list or small bed, round or pointed at the
top, should be turned with a large shovel or small middle buster
and allowed to settle before planting time. At time of planting
the bed should be opened with a small shovel or bull tongue
scooter large enough to clean the beds and deep enough to leave
the bottom, after planting, about even with the middle furrow
and with a slight ridge in between. If the land is freshly broken
no listing is required-planting may be made in small open fur-
on good land, cultivated well and kept free of diseases and insects.
row, covered and left just below the land surface. Seed should
be covered from 2 to 4 inches deep, depending upon the season
at time of planting.
The planting preparation leaves the ground in proper shape
for use of weeder or for barring off rows. Begin weeding with
the rows and continue until land is leveled off. Successive weed-
ings should be made diagonally across rows and continued until
the plants are large enough to be broken by the weeder. Culti-
vation should be clean and frequent until peanuts have almost
covered the ground. This probably will make hoeing, the most
expensive operation in peanut production, unnecessary. When
the plants begin to form pegs cultivation should be done with
care. Very little or no soil should ever be turned toward the
plants after they begin growth. Pins or young pods must never
be disturbed. The middles should be kept clean until laid by with
sweeps or scrapes run reasonably deep.
LEAF SPOT AND LEAF-HOPPER CONTROL
Leaf spot disease causes the brown, yellow-margined spots
found on peanut leaves which become more numerous as the sea-
son progresses. Many times it has caused half or more of the
leaves to fall from the plant by digging time. This shedding of
leaves has been misunderstood by many who believed it was a
sign the nuts were maturing.
The leaf-hopper is a small, lively, pale or yellowish green insect
about 1/8 inch long. Because of its smallness and color, it is not
easily seen. It feeds on the lower surface of the leaves and causes
injury by puncturing and sucking the juices from them.
Leaf spot and leaf-hopper can be controlled and peanut yields
increased 20 percent or more by dusting the plants with sulphur
dust at about 2-week intervals for 6 or 8 weeks, starting at first
signs of leaf spot or sometime from 60 to 75 days after planting.
Earlier dusting is necessary on Spanish than on runners because
they mature earlier and are more susceptible to leaf spot. From
15 to 20 pounds of sulphur dust per acre should be used at each
dusting. It can be applied at any time of day or night except
when a strong wind is blowing, but it sticks better when leaves
are damp. Probably the most satisfactory type of duster for use
on an average size peanut acreage is a 4-nozzle, 1-mule traction
duster with seat for the operator. (Anyone desiring more de-
tailed information concerning dust, dusters and methods of dust-
ing should see his County Agent.)
Peanuts are Florida's principal oil-producing crop. They are
also its principal hog-fattening feed. An acre of peanuts yield-
ing 1,000 pounds of nuts has been known to make from 200 to 600
pounds of pork, the amount depending upon many factors
including shade, moisture, thriftiness of hogs and nearness
to a good supply of drinking water. Peanuts can be reasonably
expected to make from 325 to 350 pounds of pork per acre if
grazed in the fall and from 275 to 325 pounds if grazed after
frost and under other reasonably fair conditions. Spanish should
be ready for grazing 2 or 3 weeks earlier than runners planted at
the same time and will deteriorate much more quickly if left in
the ground. Animal protein supplement and minerals should be
fed along with late peanuts for best results.
Peanuts should be dug when most pods are filled and inside
of hull has turned dark and shows veins. When Spanish peanuts
are at proper stage for digging, some of the bottom nuts may
have sprouted and some of the top ones will be immature.
Peanuts should be plowed up while plants are dry, the soil
should be shaken from the roots and the plants allowed to lie on
the ground until leaves are wilted. After plowing they may be
delivered into windows by the use of a side-delivery rake and
left for wilting and stacking or, if weather is favorable, they
may be cured in the window. In stacking they should be placed
around a pole about 3 inches in diameter and about 8 feet tall
with the roots turned toward the pole. Twelve to 25 of these poles
will be required per acre. They should be set about 2 feet in the
ground and have 2 cross-pieces about 3 feet long nailed to them
from 14 to 18 inches above ground. The center of the stack must
be kept open and higher than the edges, brought to a point at
top of pole and capped with 6 to 8 inches of grass, straw or other
material over top of pole to shed rain water and thus protect the
nuts and hay. It is necessary to leave peanuts in the stack from
4 to 6 weeks for curing.
A large acreage of peanuts should not be planted for digging
unless a mechanical picker is available or is in prospect. These
pickers remove the pods from the vines and a large portion of the
dirt from the pods and hay. Sound peanuts and damaged ones
should not be picked together. This will lower the price of the
For every ton of nuts there will be 11/4 to 13/4 tons of hay. It
should be either baled or stored loose in a dry place as soon after
it leaves the picker as possible or it may be left on the land as
a manure cover or mulch, if not desired as hay. The nuts should
be either moved on to market or stored in a dry, ventilated place,
free from mice or rats.
It requires approximately 37 hours of man labor and 30 hours
of mule labor to produce an acre of peanuts in Florida. Consider-
ably less labor is required in cultivation with weeders than with
plows. Weeders can be very successfully used on light soils. To
plow up, stack, pick and bale the hay approximately 34 hours of
man labor and 12 hours of mule labor are required. The largest
amount of labor required at one time is in plowing up and stack-
ing. This operation requires approximately 28 hours of man and
7 hours hours of mule labor. The 10.6 hours of man labor used
in hoeing may be eliminated by careful preparation of seedbed
and careful cultivation.
PEANUTS AND SOIL MAINTENANCE OR IMPROVEMENT
The peanut, being a legume, gathers nitrogen from the air.
When 1,000 pounds of nuts are hogged off it is estimated that
50 pounds of nitrogen are gained by the soil, against a loss of
approximately 8 pounds of phosphoric acid, 51/2 pounds of potash
and 1 pound of calcium. This practice, therefore, has consider-
able value in soil improvement.
When peanuts are dug the vines, nuts and a considerable por-
tion of the roots are removed. A crop of 1,000 pounds of nuts
per acre and the accompanying vines and roots dug remove ap-
proximately 60 to 67 pounds of nitrogen, 11 to 12.5 pounds of
phosphoric acid, 26 to 34 pounds of potash and 20 to 27 pounds
of calcium from the land.2 Harvested peanuts deplete the soil.
Applications of commercial fertilizer to the preceding crop and
to the peanuts will partly offset this loss and help maintain the
soil fertility. Winter manure crops such as blue lupines, Aus-
trian winter peas and vetch, if grown on the land the winter
before or during the winter following the removal of a crop of
peanuts and turned into the land, will maintain soil fertility.
Peanuts hogged off or other summer legumes grown alone or in
combination with other crops in the rotation and turned under
will help very materially in maintaining the soil fertility.
1For further discussion of labor requirements see Experiment Station
Bulletin 388 by Max E. Brunk and J. Wayne Reitz.
'See Georgia Experiment Station Bulletin No. 309 by W. R. Gore.