Peanuts are a major cash crop of the rotation system. Still, with Florida statewide average yield of 2500 lb/acre, and the present farm bill, income is not very good. However, we expect that there will be a significant increase in peanut yields following bahiagrass, with a reduction in irrigation and pesticide costs.
Growers typically experience a 50 to 100 percent increase in yield in peanuts after bahiagrass, and there is considerable scientific literature that supports their findings. Although it is not completely understood why there is such a dramatic increase in yield after bahiagrass, we do know that the nematodes pathogenic to peanuts will be greatly reduced and that the peanut root system will be much deeper in the soil. There are also the potential added benefits from increased organic matter in the soil. Specific studies will address these questions.
The cost of pesticides will be greatly reduced in peanuts following bahiagrass. Due to the elimination of the need for nematicides and a reduction in the number of leaf spot sprays (from 6-8 sprays to 2-4 sprays), we expect that the grower will save about $50/acre in pesticides in peanuts after bahiagrass compared to peanuts after 1 or 2 years of cotton.
One challenge is the negative impact the bahiagrass may have due to high amounts of residue. Typically, growers will plow and disk bahiagrass in the fall before planting peanuts in the spring. We feel that by killing the bahiagrass in the fall with an herbicide such as glyphosate, enough decomposition will take place during the winter that the planting and harvesting of the peanuts will not be adversely affected, even with strip till and no-till planting. Again, specific studies will address these questions.