When you’re looking for a good quality hay source in Florida, don’t overlook perennial peanut hay. Perennial peanut is similar in quality to alfalfa, but has its own benefits. Namely longevity.
You see, producers here in Florida struggle with alfalfa, and most stands last just two to three years. However, perennial peanut stands in our area last for decades.
Depending on how it is managed, perennial peanut hay contains, on average, 13-18 percent crude protein.
There are several great varieties to choose from if you wish to plant some yourself. Florigraze, Arbrook, UF Tito and UF Peace are all good varieties for grazing or hay.
Perennial peanut fields annually can produce up to 5 tons of hay per acre. The only drawback is the cost to plant the fields.
Perennial peanut is planted by a process called sprigging. Rhizomes of perennial peanut are dug from the nursery field and planted in the new field using machinery to put the rhizome 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. This process costs around $300 per acre.
To learn more about perennial peanut, you can attend the Perennial Peanut Field Day, which begins 9:30 a.m. June 6 at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna. See http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2015/05/08/perennial-peanut-field-day-june-6/ for more information.