“We saw a significant increase in maturity in older peanuts after flowers were removed,” Lamb says. “Reducing flowers, whether chemically or by hand, increased the rate of maturation over the control plots by three-fold and four-fold amounts. Grades were also increased.

“Yield for irrigated peanuts was increased by as much as 700 pounds, much of that due to kernel density — the peanuts that remained were heavier, which translated into higher yield and grade.

“It’s hard to convince a farmer to take flowers off his peanuts — but at a certain time in the crop’s development, new flowers will only make new pegs and peanuts that take energy away from the more mature peanuts. If we halt that process, that energy can go toward a better maturity distribution, and hopefully better yield and grade.

“We will expand the study this year, and hope to include a Mississippi location.”

Irrigation scheduling studies are also continuing, Lamb says. “If you look at Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award winners, or yield achievement winners, many of those use Irrigator Pro. It has been proven by farmers and by consultants on over 60,000 acres.

“If you’re interested in it, contact us.  Through collaboration with IBM, we’ll have it on the Web, and it will also be available for smart phones. There is no cost to growers.”

Other research is evaluating the use of peg strength as a tool to estimate maturity and determine when to dig.

“If you’ve got good peg strength on the black peanuts on your maturity board, you can wait a bit to dig,” Lamb says. “We use a digital force gauge to map the entire peanut plant. We then take one pod and blast it, and what we’re finding is that — based on peg strength, plant health, and cultivar — we can leave peanuts in the ground longer. The longer they can stay, the higher quality they’re going to be in general.

“We’re going to keep working with this and hope we can offer growers a tool to help them delay digging in order to get higher yielding, higher grading peanuts.”

Data have been collected for 2012 for X-ray grading of peanuts, Lamb says. “We’re comparing grading factors from the X-ray process with federal/state grades, and results have been quite similar.

“We don’t have all the data analyzed from 2012, but from a cursory examination, results look quite good and we hope to publish our findings soon.