PEANUT HAY REMOVAL
There are no free lunches. Many peanut growers, especially those with cattle, have considered peanut hay as a side benefit of peanut production. They rarely weighed the cost of the nutrients removed when baling peanut hay. Emanuel County Agent Mark Crosby and I have taken samples for several years from numerous bales of peanut hay and had it analyzed for the fertilizer value. The nitrogen ranged from 1.36-1.74 percent, phosphorus was stable at .11-.15 percent and potassium varied from 1.6 to 2.65 percent with the average being 1.6 percent nitrogen, .13 percent phosphorus and 2.1 percent potassium. The hay bales ranged from 850 to 1400 pounds per bale but I believe the average bale of peanut hay in Coffee County will average around 1,000 pounds.
I am going to keep the nutrient value from the fertilizer removed on a per bale rather than a per acre value since number of bales per acre is quite variable. I have seen the number of bales per acre rolled vary from just over two bales to five bales per acre. An average would be somewhere around three bales per acre.
Nitrogen is currently around 60 cents per pound, phosphate at 45 cents per pound and potassium around 55 cents per pound so each 1,000 pound bale of peanut hay would remove about $22 in fertilizer nutrients. All these nutrients will not be available to next year’s crop (probably about 60 percent of the nitrogen and 80 percent of the phosphorus and potassium will be available for next year’s crop) and some of these nutrients will be loss before they are available to subsequent crops. A good estimate of fertilizer removed from each bale of peanut that will eventually have to be replaced would be $15 per bale not including the value of calcium, magnesium, manganese and boron or organic matter removed. So a grower letting his neighbor or landlord roll his peanut hay would have to get at least $15 per bale to break even. The average cost of rolling peanut hay is $14 per bale so for farmers rolling their own peanut hay for feed or sale would have to get $29 per bale to break even.
There is also a correlation between removing peanut hay and an increased risk of Stemphylium on the following cotton crops. Stemphylium is a cotton disease that is associated with late-season potassium deficiency and possibly nitrogen deficiency.
When growers remove large amounts of potassium with peanut hay and don’t replace it next year’s cotton crop becomes more susceptible to Stemphylium. Stemphylium can cause premature defoliation and yield loss.
Stemphylium on Cotton
HOW DO I COMPARE PEANUT HAY TO BERMUDAGRASS HAY?
Good quality peanut hay will average about 11% Crude protein and 48% TDN compared to good quality bermudagrass hay at 12% protein and 54-58% TDN so peanut hay is generally slightly less in quality then bermudagrass hay.