published in


September 2014

Evaluation of Arachis pintoi for beef cattle in Florida

by Joao Vendramini

Ona Report - Dr. Joao Vendramini

For questions or comments regarding this publication contact: Dr. Joao Vendramini, University of Florida, IFAS

Warm-season grasses are the main forage used for beef cattle production in Florida. Although warm-season grass monocultures require a minimum level of N fertilization to maintain sustainable biomass growth and nutritive value to ruminants, forage-based cow-calf systems in Florida are characterized by extensive grazing and limited (or no) use of N due to the high cost of commercial N fertilizer. 

Overseeding warm-season legumes into grass pastures has been suggested as an effective alternative to supply warm-season grass pastures with N via biological N2 fixation of the legume. In addition to the benefit of added N, performance of young cattle may also increase in response to adding legumes to a grass pasture. Several warm-season legumes have been evaluated in tropical and subtropical regions during the past decades. Research conducted at Ona evaluated fifty warm-season legumes accessions representing 33 species and 17 genera and observed that most of the materials had limited persistence under grazing conditions. In addition, the researchers also observed that the majority of the accessions exhibited limited seed production. 

Arachis glabrata (perennial peanut) is the most planted species of Arachis as forage in Florida. Perennial peanut is adapted to well drained soils, persistent under grazing, and has superior nutritive value. On the other hand, it is propagated by rhizomes only and has slow establishment, which limit its use in extensive grazing systems. 

Arachis pintoi (pintoi peanut) is a warm-season perennial legume, propagated by seed, with documented persistence on acidic soils with low fertility and may be a feasible option to incorporate in extensive grazing systems, currently cultivated with warm-season grasses in Florida. In general, all Arachis species produce reasonable forage quantity and quality, compared with species of the other genera utilized as forage. In addition, it produces a considerable amount of seed that enhance the persistence and propagation of pintoi peanut plants under grazing. 

Research conducted in Florida by Dr. Quesenberry tested a wide variety of pintoi peanut entries in different locations. It demonstrated that the entries displayed great variability with respect to adaptation, dry matter yield, nutritive value, seed production, and nematode reaction. Average forage dry matter yield was 4,000 lb DM/ acre, and ranged from zero to 10,000 lb DM/acre. Crude protein and digestibility were high and confirmed the fact that pintoi peanut has excellent nutritive value. Average crude protein was 18% and ranged from 13 to 22%. Digestibility averaged 67% and ranged from 60 to 73%. The authors also evaluated seed yields and concluded that the average production was 360 lb/acre. This research project showed that some entries of pintoi peanut had similar herbage yield and nutritive value to the current perennial peanut cultivars planted in Florida. 

Considering these desirable traits presented by pintoi peanut in previous experiences in Florida, research projects were established at the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center in 2013 to evaluate establishment, production, and nutritive value of pintoi peanut under clipping and grazing conditions. Based on preliminary results, seeding rates of 10 lb/acre resulted in approximately 60% cover 70 d after establishment when planted in a pure stand in a prepared seedbed. When planting 10 lb/acre of pintoi peanut and 25 lb/acre of Argentine bahiagrass, the peanut has faster germination than bahiagrass and would account for approximately 50% of the plants in the stand; however, approximately 80% of the area covered by the planted species. In June 2013, pintoi peanut was overseeded in an established Jiggs bermudagrass pasture and the pastures have been grazed to a 6 or 12 inches stubble height this year. The initial pintoi plant population was approximately 1 plant/sq ft and the 6 inches stubble height grazing has promoted an increase in pintoi plant population and cover. 

The current limitations of using pintoi peanut in commercial grazing systems are limited availability and high cost of seed. In addition, the seeds are fragile and may require a specific peanut planter to avoid seed damage and, consequently, decreased germination. 

Although research data on pintoi peanut management is still limited, it’s fast germination, ground cover, and persistence under grazing presented in the preliminary results, are promising that pintoi peanut may be a suitable warm-season legume for extensive grazing systems in Florida. Additional research projects are underway and will be conducted in the next few years that will yield more information to Florida producers in the near future. 

If you have any questions about pintoi peanut in Florida, please contact Joe Vendramini, at jv@ufl.eduor 863-735-1314.