Meet Sam Victores

Sam Victores was our Graduate Assistant during 2022-23 and conducted her research on organic peanut production here at the farm. She has a B.S. in Plant Science from the University of Florida and was awarded a master’s degree this spring. We all learned something working with Sam, and we appreciated her hard work and joyful personality.

What is the goal of your research and how did you become interested in peanuts?

The goal of my research is to investigate the feasibility of organic peanut production in Florida. Florida is the second largest producer of peanuts in the US, but none of the farms are certified organic. Research in the area is very lacking, so I wanted to develop this project to jumpstart some research. I have always found legumes very interesting, and when I started to work with Dr. Wang, I learned even more about peanuts. They are a great crop that is perfectly suited for sustainable production, as they are very drought resistant and make their own nitrogen using biological nitrogen fixation. When I developed this project, I wanted to study peanuts but also wanted it to be suitable for Field and Fork, thus the idea to study organic peanuts was born. 

What have you learned from your research that might affect Florida farmers or consumers of peanuts?

My research definitely needs some more studies and data to have a solid answer, but a major consideration I found when conducting it was the weed pressure. Growing over summer in Florida already comes with major weed pressure, and peanut is not very competitive against weeds. Florida farmers who want to grow peanuts organically need to consider this. I grew runner varieties which take 140 days in the ground, but other varieties, such as Valencias, take half that time. Growers should maybe opt for these varieties to aid in the weed pressure. 

How does your research contribute to the larger picture of Florida agriculture?

Florida is still not a state with many organic farms. In 2021, Florida had 134 certified organic farms while the state with the most organic farms, California, had over 30,000. Advancing research and knowledge on organic farming in Florida can help to show its feasibility for organic growers and move the state toward these sustainable practices.  

What else would you like to share about peanuts?

Peanuts are incredibly drought resistant, with some growers not even using irrigation for them. They also utilize a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, called rhizobia, to biologically fix atmospheric nitrogen and convert it to plant soluble forms. Using this, peanut makes its own nitrogen and does not require as much fertilization as other crops. Peanut is also quite densely planted, especially when compared to fruit and vegetable crops, so you can grow more peanuts on less land. Peanut is a very sustainable and efficient crop, and more Florida organic growers should be growing them! 

Published: August 7th, 2023

Category: Uncategorized

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