The 2010 crop year has seen some good examples of this due to extreme heat, he says.

“Peanuts are indeterminate. In other words, they don’t have a time at which they must fruit and can’t fruit. They can fruit and flower throughout the season as long as conditions are right. Contrast that with corn. When corn comes out of the ground and is 10 to 20 inches tall, its yield is predetermined. You can take away yield and add to the development of that yield, but its yield potential is pretty well capped at a very early stage.

“With peanuts and cotton, they can quit fruiting when the weather gets hot. Then, when the weather improves, they can go back to fruiting. They fruit continuously, and that’s what makes it so difficult and why we get split crops and uneven distributions.”

In one trial this year, two varieties — Georgia Green and AP-4 — gained 20 percent in yield over a period of eight days, says Faircloth. As they increased in maturity, they greatly improved in yield.

The profile board is a very good predictor of maturity, he says, but it has its faults. Sampling errors, he adds, can be a problem. “Often, you over-estimate maturity because you’re getting the biggest, most mature peanuts, and you’re not accounting for all of the peanuts in the field.”

Time also can be an issue, says Faircloth. “I do about 500 of these boards every fall as part of my research, and it takes 15 to 20 minutes to do this right. You have to get the pod, look at it, and sometimes feel. At times, you have to go by the touch and consistency — whether it’s soft and watery are hard and firm. Also, the pod blasting must be available to you.”

Research is not focused on doing away with the profile board, he says, but rather to find some methods that make it easier to do or that might eventually take its place and be accurate and reliable.