Pod Maturity in the Shelling Process Academic Article uri icon


  • ABSTRACT Determining an optimum harvest maturity for indeterminate crops such as peanut is critical because it directly affects yield and grade. Historically, the assumption has been that growers will harvest at optimum maturity due to the positive impact on these two characteristics. However, the increased acreage under management by a single farmer may cause growers to harvest prior to optimum maturity. The impact of peanut maturity on seed quality may not be fully understood by producers, where immature seed may have reduced emergence and vigor. Research was conducted to quantify the maturity of seed peanuts received by the Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc. (FFSP) at various stages of the shelling process: samples received from the field; after the in-shell samples were cleaned; after in-shell pre-sizing into two size classes; and after separation of in-shell samples at the gravity deck. Samples collected at each stage were pressure-washed to remove the exocarp and then separated into yellow and brown/black color classes based on the maturity board. Pods within each color class were counted, dried, weighed, and graded. Maturity at each sheller stage was assessed for three peanut cultivars. For the field stage, across all cultivars, 56% of pods were in the mature, or brown/black color class. This was well below the level of 70-80% in the brown/black class purported to be the maturity level that optimizes yield and grade. Cleaning had a minor impact on maturity percentages (average percent mature was 64% across all cultivars after passing through the mechanical cleaning process); however, in the pre-shelling sizing process where pods are sorted into lead and small baskets representing large and small pods, respectively, the maturity percentage was improved to 75% in the large pods and declined to 45% in the small pods. These results indicate that: 1) maturity levels of cultivars harvested in the field may not be optimal; and 2) that improvements could be made in maturity percentages by modifying the shelling process to separate the larger pods which are more likely to be mature than the smaller pods. These results also suggest that seed peanut lots are unlikely to be composed entirely of mature pods, that large numbers of immature pods could make it through the shelling process and that immature seed are planted by farmers. This could explain some cases of suboptimal plant stands in peanut.

published proceedings

  • Peanut Science

author list (cited authors)

  • Carter, E. T., Rowland, D. L., Tillman, B. L., Erickson, J. E., Grey, T. L., Gillett-Kaufman, J. L., & Clark, M. W.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017 11:11 AM