“We’re basically using the traditional board just as we do with the hull-scrape method. If peanuts are in the far right black column, which are our most mature peanuts, and the peg strength is good, then we can afford to let the peanuts stay in the ground a little longer and let the remainder of the peanuts catch up.

“This will add yield and grade. But if they’re in the brown or early black column, and the peg strength is degrading, then it’s an indication we might need to dig early just to salvage what we have.”

Researchers take the digital force gauge, put a clamp on the peanuts, and then pull it. “It’ll tell us how much pull exists and where the breaking point of the stem is located,” says Lamb.

“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.”

Another research project outlined by Lamb is aimed at improving maturity distribution in peanuts by chemically halting flowering late in the growing period.

“When you’ve got peanuts that are far black, or approaching far black on the maturity profile board, there is a point that additional flowers will develop pegs and pods, but those pods have no chance of helping with yield or grade.

“They’re taking energy away from the plant that could be used by the more mature, higher-yielding, higher-grading peanuts.

“Immature peanuts can also take away from grade, because they can cause problems with flavor — that was the original aim of this research, to improve flavor by reducing the immatures.