Spanish peanuts do not yield as well as runner peanut varieties in West Texas but still may offer growers some advantages.

Earlier maturity allows farmers to schedule harvest more efficiently and may help stretch limited water supplies, especially in dry years.

“Spanish peanuts account for 20 to 25 percent of West Texas production,” says Calvin Trostle, Texas AgriLife Extension agronomist at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Lubbock.

Trostle discussed Spanish peanut variety trials at the  American Peanut Research and Education Society annual meeting in San Antonio.

He said recent price increases for Spanish peanuts make them more competitive with runner types. Still, the smaller-seeded, earlier maturing Spanish peanuts typically do not yield or grade as well as the larger, longer maturity runner varieties.

Trostle said growers want to see how new varieties perform compared to standard varieties in trials so they can make better planting decisions. He takes the trials a step further and plants a runner variety, Flavor Runner 458, with the Spanish to give growers an opportunity to judge differences in yield and grade, especially how runner performs even when dug with the Spanish. He also looks at early season vigor.

One more recent Spanish variety, AT 9899-14, a high oleic, small-seeded peanut is a unique entry. “It’s a Spanish peanut with a runner peanut growth habit, but it’s 10 to 14 days later than other Spanish varieties.” This peanut is a favorite for use in peanut products that require Spanish peanuts.

Trostle says a possible drawback is the variety’s “weak peg attachment. Double-row planting patterns may benefit this one,” he said.

AT 9899-14 has not performed as well in West Texas as hoped. “It has not kept pace with Tamspan 90 or OLin in Texas trials,” Trostle said. “However, industry data suggest it will outperform OLin. Performance may reflect the production environment.”

He said Tamnut OL06 is a popular Spanish peanut with a large pod and larger nut than typical Spanish varieties but with a shorter maturity date than runners.

“We hoped Tamnut OL06 might perform well as a short-season runner, but yields have not been sufficient in runner trials to merit planting for the runner market.

“Texas AgriLife breeder colleagues also have a new high oleic Spanish peanut in advanced stages of testing.”

Trostle said variety trials that include the runner peanut with Spanish types are all dug at the same time, when Spanish are ready. “We dig the runners sooner than is recommended,” he said.

Even with that disadvantage, runners still yield and grade equal to or slightly better than the Spanish varieties in the trials. “So we have to ask, what advantage do growers get from planting Spanish peanuts? They still get an earlier maturity date and less total water demand,” Trostle said.

He recommended that growers look at “multiple-year data when selecting new varieties. Also when (expected) yields are not made we need to determine if the problem is with the variety or with management. Is irrigation adequate, for instance?”

He said Spanish trials try to “identify what looks good early.”

Trostle also encouraged farmers to do more than watch the calendar to judge digging time by using a hull-scrape method or other technique to evaluate maturity. “Take the guesswork out of digging time,” he said. “Document it.”