New Variety Honors Avid Grower

Named for Arnold ‘Arnie’ Forrester, the University of Florida released
a high-yield potential cultivar with normal oleic oil chemistry.

If ‘Arnie’ the peanut cultivar is half as good of a peanut variety as Arnie Forrester was a man, it will be truly outstanding, says folks who knew him.

Arnold “Arnie” Forrester was a farmer in Jackson County, Florida, until his untimely passing Jan. 1, 2022. Until then, he was an outstanding farmer and strong collaborator with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, always searching for new technology to improve his farming operation.

A Tribute To Dedication

This picture shows an example of two- and three-seeded pods on the same plant produced by the peanut variety ‘Arnie.’

Sudeep Sidhu, regional specialized Extension agent with the North Florida Research and Education Center in Suwannee Valley, says he met Arnie in early 2021.

“Within minutes of our meeting, we were drawing maps on the ground with our fingers, although we were right next to his office and could have drawn on paper or used Google Earth,” Sidhu says of his willingness and excitement to be part of the scientific process.

“For a cotton project, I always prefer to be out in the field on the day of planting so that I can mark the first row and establish my studies on the same rows as the cotton picker would be during harvest. Due to some delays, Arnie was behind with cotton planting in our designated field that year. He ended up planting the field at midnight and texted me that he had flagged the first row for me.

“The next day I went to establish my treatments, and I won’t be able to forget what I saw. Arnie did flag the first row, not for one pass but for 12 consecutive passes,” Sidhu says. “He wanted to make it easy for me and planting well into the middle of the night, he stopped 12 times to flag the first row at each pass. That was his dedication and commitment to research, and, above all, his kind, wonderful and helping heart to make it easy for others.”

Significant Tolerance To TSWV

UF peanut breeder Barry Tillman says it is rare to find such a perfect example of an engineer-farmer, such as Arnie was.

“As an engineer, he was meticulous, deliberate and analytical with a strong desire to learn more and more, to support his decision-making process. As a farmer, he was hard-working, determined and studious, always executing his plan and observing the crop to make sure it had everything needed.”

As for the runner-type peanut variety, Tillman says its characteristics include high-yield potential, high total sound mature kernel grade and excellent tolerance to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. The cultivar, ‘Arnie,’ has normal oleic oil chemistry, making it the second release from UF-IFAS in recent years with this trait, a nod to the preference of some peanut butter manufacturers.

“In 23 Florida tests over five years and three locations, the pod yield of ‘Arnie’ was greater than that of Georgia-06G, Tillman says. “Grade was slightly greater than Georgia-06G.”

However, it’s the tolerance of ‘Arnie’ to TSWV that is one of the variety’s most impressive features, he says.

“In tests conducted in Florida and Georgia, the spotted wilt disease ratings of ‘Arnie’ were significantly lower than Georgia-06G, and similar to Georgia-12Y, which has the best tolerance to spotted wilt among cultivars grown today,” Tillman says. “‘Arnie’ is a medium-maturing variety requiring about 140 days in Florida under irrigation. It has a relatively small runner-size seed at about 700 sound mature kernels per pound and produces about 38% medium seeds on an in-shell basis.”

Tillman says another unique feature of the variety is that about 15% of its pods contain three seeds. Seed supply of ‘Arnie’ will be limited in 2024, with about 90 acres of Foundation seed grown in 2023. PG

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