Creg., nom. nud.
forage peanuts are comparatively new, but show great promise for well-grazed legume
pastures in the tropics and subtropics. They grow best in moist, well-drained and
moderately fertile soils to produce high-quality feed over a long growing season.
The plants have a strong tap-root, but are also strongly rhizomatous along the more prostrate stems. They can spread underground even under heavy grazing, sending up shoots some distance from the base plant in friable soils, and form dense mats up to 20 cm deep.
Although best suited to rainfall above 1100 mm, creeping peanuts can survive dry seasons of 4 months or more.
Creeping forage peanuts are strongly perennial, and can combine with aggressive creeping grasses such as signal and bahia grass to form highly productive pastures for both beef and dairy cattle. They are shade-tolerant, and can grow with tall grasses and under plantation crops.
Only pinto peanut cv. Amarillo can be planted from seed, the more drought-resistant A. glabrata types are non-seeding and have to be planted vegetatively; one has been released recently as cv. Prine.
Amarillo produces bright yellow flowers. After pollination, these reflex into the ground as fruiting pegs to form small single-kernel pods which form the seeds of commerce (6000-7000 seeds per kg).
Amarillo can be sown at any time of the year in the tropics, but should be sown between September and March to avoid frost on young seedlings. `Seed' of Amarillo has to be planted at 15-20 kg/ha of seed in pods for pastures, and buried 2-6 cm deep, never on the surface.
Pods should be inoculated with the highly specific strain of Bradyrhizobium immediately before planting; despite this, new growth often appears pale. Amarillo is very palatable, with high leaf digestibility for a tropical legume.
Compared to Amarillo, Prine is even more tolerant of heavy grazing, aggressive creeping grasses and lower fertility soils. It has been grown on a wide range of soil types, but probably prefers well-drained, low to moderate fertility acid sandy soils and light clays. Prine can form excellent ground cover on poorer soils.
Prine and the glabrata-types are planted vegetatively using harvesters and planters developed in Florida.
The cost of establishment will limit creeping peanuts to areas of intensive grazing under suitable climates.
The forage peanuts are resistant to the major peanut diseases (peanut rust and leaf
spot), but rats, mice and bandicoots will dig up seed-pods from the soil.
|Creator: Ian Partridge
Date created: 18 Mar 1998 Revised: 25 Mar 1998