October 10, 2014

2 Min Read
<p>BALING PEANUT HAY in south Georgia.</p>

Peanut harvesters roll across the Peanut Belt now, and hay balers crawl behind many of them recovering the remains of the day: the vines which can be valuable in several ways. But in a droughty summer, which hit dryland fields and nonirrigated corners this summer, it’s best to watch that hay.

Peanut hay can make good feed and cash flow for peanut farmers. I’m not advocating or dissuading the practice, but I’ve been told there’s nothing wrong with using commercially grown peanuts for hay as feed. It poses no risk to animal health.

Test peanut hay if it is going to be fed to livestock, though. Drought-stressed peanuts in the last five to six weeks are at higher risk for alflatoxin, as you know. Aflatoxin must be less than 20 ppb in the hay to be safe. High nitrates, or more than 4500 ppm, can be a problem, too, according to a notable forage specialist I know.

Peanut vines contain plant nutrients, too, and much-needed organic matter, which greatly benefit the soil (and eventually a farmer’s bottomline), if left in the field. Taking the vines is like watching your fertility reimbursement from the peanuts roll away from the farm.

If you take the hay from the field, you take away 50 pounds N, 10 pounds P2O5 and 60 pounds of K2O. In dry land peanuts, there is usually 1.25 to 1.75 tons of residue removed per acre. Irrigated fields may have 1.75 to 2.5 tons per acre, says Glen Harris, University of Georgia fertility specialist.

But, then again, late in the growing season leaf spot came on strong in some locations and that poses a risk to leaving diseased vines, which results in inoculant left steeping in fields for the future.

If you take the hay, keep it as clean as possible. Shrouds behind the combine can windrow the hay. Raking the hay pulls the dust and soil into it. Baled peanut hay is a big sponge that soaks up moisture and can rot fast, especially with the added dust and soil. Not a good thing.

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