After more than a half century of research, the rhizoma perennial peanut is now considered by many growers to be the best perennial warm-weather legume for southeastern states, according to USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Today, perennial peanut's net profit exceeds $500/acre annually, with demand for hay exceeding production. Current annual sales -- predominantly as hay but also as planting material and ornamentals -- exceed $7 million, according to ARS.

The crop was introduced to Florida in the 1930s, then several state and federal ag research organizations worked together to perfect it. A major breakthrough came in the 1980s with the release of Florigraze and Arbrook, which outyielded earlier varieties. Researchers are now seeking ways to combat adaptability problems that occur when perennial peanut is planted in more northern climates or in wet soils. Research is challenging, though, because the plant produces very little seed. New plant material is being sought from its native range in South America.

Read more about the research in the March issue of USDA’s Agricultural Research magazine, available at:
www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/mar08/peanut0308.htm.