Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab

A blog about leading science in peanut and food security.

Greg MacDonald describes field tour in Williston, Fla., USA, with visiting African scientists and PMIL collaborators

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Andy Robinson discussing fertility methods for peanut seed.

We visited with farmer Andy Robinson of 35 Farms, Williston, Fla. County agent Andrew Drew of Levy county hosted us. We traveled to Andy’s farm where we discussed his practices and farming operations for growing peanuts – specifically for peanut seed production. Andy discussed his fertility operations and told the group he uses site specific application techniques based on 1 acre soil grid sampling. Because of his unique soils (very deep coarse sand) he uses more potassium fertilizer and calcium compared to normal growers. He also utilizes a unique fungicide program. Anthony Drew discussed maturity profiling as a method to determine when to harvest and also to maximize quality peanuts for seed.

Andy then showed the group his modified peanut digger, which he built himself.  It is much different from traditional U.S. digging equipment. Andy told the group he tents his peanuts, with the intention of drying the vines, not the pods.  Unlike normal digging operations where the plants are inverted to have the pods on top, the pods are below and the vines on top (this process was called tenting). “I would rather pick the peanuts at high moisture and control the drying myself,” said Andy .

PMIL visitors touring Andy's farm in Florida.

PMIL visitors touring Andy’s farm in Florida.

The group then went out to the field and looked at his peanuts growing, which were within a month of digging.  “The peanut is the best seed quality its going to be right at the time of digging – the key is keep it that way as long and as much as possible,” said Anthony Drew.

After that we traveled to a local drying, buying and seed processing facility. Anthony discussed the methods of drying and transport of peanuts from the field – how the industry is shifting from pull wagons to semi tractor trailer trucks with modified vents in the floor to allow for air flow.  We also discussed how and when aflatoxin was sampled.  From there we moved to the peanut storage warehouse and the facility that shelled the peanuts for seed, how foreign material was sorted out and how the seed were treated with fungicide/insecticide and bagged for seed peanuts.  Andy mentioned he tries to minimize the time from shelling to planting “peanuts are in a shell for a reason – keep them in there as long as possible”

At the end of the day, we returned to Gainesville and enjoyed a home-cooked dinner hosted by Greg MacDonald and his family  Student interns Ashley Egelie and Louisa Aarrass joined the group and the Director of IFAS Global, Dr. Walter Bowen was there as well.

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