Israeli researchers claim to have significantly improved peanut yields through the use of the plant hormone ethylene. Regulating the flowering of the peanut plant reportedly resulted in a four-fold increase in the yield of large peanut pods at harvest time.
According to the research carried out by Eliezer Zamski at the Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture at the Hebrew university in Rehovot, every peanut plant produces more than 400 flowers during the growth period, but in the end only about 35 of them ripen into peanut pods that are large enough to bring a top return on the market.
In cash terms, the larger peanut pods bring a return on the export market of $1,550 a ton (€1,421) while the smaller peanuts (extra fancy) only bring in about $1,100 a ton. As such, the researchers believe that regulating growth so that four times as many of the pods reach optimal market size will have significant consequences for the farmers.
The authors of the study note that in Israel some 33,000 dunams (8250acres) are devoted to peanut farming in the western Negev, the Sharon and the Galilee. The average yield is reported as 500-600 kilograms per dunam and the period of growth as between 145-175 days, commencing in April.
Zvi Bar of the Center for Research, Development and Training of the Maon District and Oran Bochshtav of Kibbutz Nirim were also involved in the research.