Peanuts are eaten as a snack, all around the world. It can be eaten wholly, or mashed, which is a common constituent in a va riety of candies. It is also used to make peanut butter and oil.
Countries Growing Peanuts
Peanuts are normally grown during the warmer seasons in North and South America, Australia, Asia, and Africa. India and China contribute over 50% of the world's production. The U.S. has only around 3% of the world's acreage used for growing them. However, it produces nearly 10% of the world's production, due to higher yields per acre.
There are other countries that also contribute, like South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil. Sudan and Nigeria also have a good peanut growth rate. In the USA, Georgia is the highest producer with over 39% of the country's total production. However, there are many other states, like North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Virginia that also grow them.
There are four kinds of peanuts available in the market that differ in size, shape, taste, and nutritional value.
They typically have large seeds, and so are in demand for processing that includes salting and roasting. Generally, the larger seeds are sold and consumed as snacks. They are mainly cultivated in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina.
These peanuts have become quite popular because of the introduction of the Florunner, due to which a variety of the runner types were grown in the 1970s. This machine is credited for bringing the runner type into limelight.
These type of groundnuts are well in demand because of their physical features that include their appealing and consistent kernel size. They have a huge role to play in the production of peanut butter, with over 50% of the runner yield used for that purpose. They are mainly grown in states, like Georgia, Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Oklahoma.
This type usually has three or more kernels in a single pod that are bright red in color. They have a sweet taste, and are roasted and sold intact with the shell itself, or are also sold boiled.
These are reddish-brown in color, and are smaller in comparison to the Virginia type. They are mostly used to produce peanut candies, peanut butter, and as snacks. They are rich in oil, which is why they are highly preferred for producing groundnut oil. In the USA, Oklahoma and Texas are their main producers.
Specialized machinery is required to plant and harvest peanuts. The seeds are buried around two inches deep, in rows that are three feet apart. If the seeds are planted in sandy soil, which is rich in calcium, they produce good results. The seeds sprout when the soil temperature is around 65-70°F and there is sufficient water.
Yellow-colored flowers appear at the lower part of the plant, which pollinate themselves. The flowers shed their petals, as the ovary becomes bigger. It forms a small stem that extends to the soil. The peanut embryo aligns itself parallel to the surface, and begins to mature by turning itself into a peanut.
Eventually, the plant produces nearly 40 or more fully grown pods. Around 140-150 days are required for the shells and kernels to fully develop. However, the growth rate of the plant depends strongly on the type and temperature.
When the plant reaches maturity, it is ready to be harvested. It has to be ensured that when removing the plant from the soil, the soil should not be too wet or too dry. When the time is right, the farmer uses the digger for harvesting. This digger has long blades that go 4-6 inches into the soil. It loosens the soil and cuts the taproot of the plant.
The shaker is a part of the digger that lifts the plant and removes all the dirt from the peanut. When the peanuts are removed fresh from the soil, they contain 25-50% moisture. For storing them, their moisture must be reduced to 10%, and this is achieved by drying them.
Before 'threshing', they are left in the windrows for two days to dry. The farmer uses his combine on the windrows, which lifts the plant, separates the pod and the plant, puts it into the hopper, and puts the plant back in the field.
If you want to grow groundnuts in your vegetable garden, you won't need any special seeds. You just need to select some raw kernels and bury them in the soil. Ensure that the soil temperature is not very cold. If you look after your plants properly, I'm sure you'll end up with a bounty.