Frost and Peanuts: What to do and What not to do
Are you still digging peanuts? If so, is there a frost in your forecast? Dug peanuts that are not yet well air dried are quite susceptible to frost injury. If the peanuts have been dug (inverted) for at least three GOOD drying days (warm temperatures) then the chance of injury to the pods is greatly reduced. According to the ‘Peanut Money Maker Production Guide‘, (Clemson University Circular 588), peanuts are usually most susceptible to frost the day they are dug because the kernel moisture content is high. Kernals with freeze injury are included in the “damaged kernel” category and when total damaged kernals reach 2.5% the peanuts are assigned to the oil market and are sold for much less! If the amount of injury is great enough, the crop can be considered a total loss.
Trey Bullock of Bullock’s Ag Consulting, says that inverted, poorly dried peanuts which have been frost damaged are an ugly sight and earnestly urges all growers to not dig peanuts near a frost unless the peanuts have time to air dry. He indicates that at least three good clear, warm (high 70′s-80′s F) days should be placed between digging (inversion) and the frost.
Updated 3:04 pm, Friday October 26, 2012
I have just had the good fortune to reach Dr. John Beasley, Peanut Agronomist for the University of Georgia, who was able to provide some additional guidance. Dr. Beasley recommends at least 48 hours of drying time between digging and the cold weather event. He defines good drying time as sunshine and humidities below 50%. You will know if your peanuts are safe from a frost if you shake the pods and the kernals rattle inside the pod (the kernals have seperated from the hull). If you do not have the 48 hours of adequite weather between digging and the cold weather, but future weather will provide sufficient drying time, do not dig. Leave the peanuts in the ground until the weather does turn favorable.