By Ronnie Barentine
Temperatures in the lower 40’s and upper 30’s several consecutive mornings will shut down the peanut maturity process. And as we move to the end of October and early November the chance of frost increases, too. Following are a few tips on peanut harvest and cold temperatures:
1. When fields are dug the moisture content of the kernels is 40% or greater. In order to reduce the risk of freeze or frost damage on peanut pods, fields need to be dug (inverted) 48 hours or longer ahead of the freeze/frost damage. Freeze damage on peanut kernels cause discolored areas that result in a Seg 2 grade. If the kernel is still tightly attached to the inside of the hull, then near freezing temperatures will cause freeze damage. However, if a field has been dug 48 hours or more, there is a great chance that the seed (kernels) have separated from the inside of the hull. The best way to check that is to shake some of the more mature pods and if you hear a rattling sound with the seed shaking in the hull, it has a very low risk of freeze damage.
2. SO, DO NOT DIG the field the day before the risk of freeze or frost damage. Wait till chance of frost or freeze has past. Its ok to leave them in the ground. The peanut pods are better protected in the soil. They are buffered and the soil is much warmer than the early morning air. We are not worried about the foliage being affected by the freeze or frost damage, especially if digging begins shortly after.
3. Finally, if temperatures reach the low 40’s and middle to upper 30’s for 3-4 mornings in a row, it is best to go ahead and dig all remaining fields. By then, there is usually not enough heat units gained during the day to “jump start” the maturity process.