It won’t be long now before the peanut diggers are in the field and a few have gotten started this week. Birdsong Peanuts in Darlington received their first truck load Monday.
As we close in on maturity, we need to make sure we dig at exactly the right time so we can maximize our yield and quality. If we dig too late, we risk losing overmature peanuts that may snap off the peg and stay in the ground. If we dig too early, we will have too many immature peanuts that are more susceptible to molds and can rot in storage. Hull blasting remains the best method of checking maturity.
Pull several plants from around the field. Sample your peanuts the same way you would sample the soil. Remember, you want a sample that represents the whole field and not just a single spot in the field. Next, pick off all the full size pods (make sure you have around 200). Blast away the outer layer of the hull with a pressure washer with an oscillating nozzle to reveal the color of the mesocarp. Use the photos below (also found on page 77 of the Peanut Money Maker Guide) to determine maturity.
Your goal is to have at least 70% of your peanuts in the orange, brown, and black stages. Those are your sound mature kernels. Remember, it takes about 10-14 days for a peanut to move from the middle of one color stage to the middle of the next. Take the weather into your account when making digging decisions, also. If you would like help making digging decisions, contact your local Clemson Extension Agent. For more info, take a look at the “Determining Harvest Maturity” section of the Peanut Money Maker Guide.