Going "Nuts" Over Peanuts
Subspecies: Arachis hypogaea
Peanuts are a very important field crop in the southeastern United States and can be grown in patches by the home gardener.
Peanuts are used to make peanut butter and peanut oil. Peanuts are also processed in a variety of ways to produce many snacks: dry roasted peanuts, boiled, salted and raw.
Peanuts are not generally considered a small scale crop, or grown in home gardens, but their fairly easy cultivation and high yield make growing peanuts a fine crop for both gardeners and truck farmers to try. Read on for our full guide on how to grow peanuts yourself.
Peanuts do well in a loose or sandy loam soil. Peanuts need 5 months of warm temperatures, and water equivalent to an annual rain amount of 20 to 39 inches. They may be watered to make up rainfall deficit.
Seeds need to be shelled before planting. Plant seeds directly outdoors after last frost. Cover seeds with about 1 inch of soil. There should be 3 feet between seeds and 3 feet between rows. Germination occurs within 18 – 25 days. Vines will spread to 3.5 feet. Make sure to keep plants watered during dry spells. Harvest will be up to 50 – 60 pods per plant, with each pod having 1 or 2 nuts. Peanuts can be harvested in 110 – 125 days, at the end of summer or in early fall when leaves begin to lighten and turn yellow. Shake soil from pods and allow them to dry completely, indoors, for 2 – 4 weeks before shelling and eating.
Peanuts are usually ‘Bunch’ type or ‘Runner’ type. Bunch type have an upright growth habit and the runner types ‘run’ along the ground.
Jumbo Virginia, Tennessee Red Valencia, Early Spanish are the varieties most suited to the home gardener or small farmer.
The following pests can damage peanuts and non-damaging control methods are specific to geographic areas. Research the best method for your area for each of the following pests:
Beet armyworm, Black cutworm, Celvetthea caterpillar, Corn armyworm, Cowpea aphid, Fall armyworm, Grannulate cutworm, Green cloverworm, Lesser cornstalk borer, Potato leafhopper, Southern corn rootworm, Spotted Cucumber beetle, Tobacco thrips, Twospotted spider mite, Wireworm
Peanuts are ready to harvest when the leaves fade to yellow. Use a spading fork to dig the peanuts. Any loose soil will need to be gently shaken from the plants. The plants need to be ‘cured’ by hanging; they should be hung in a cool dry area. Care should be taken to hang peanuts in a rodent free area. When the peanuts have cured for two weeks, they need to gently shaken once again to completely remove any additional loose soil. They will need another week or two of drying, in a space with good air circulation. Once dry, peanuts should be kept in mesh bags. Peanuts may keep for up to two months if kept dry. It is common for people to keep freshly harvested peanuts in the refrigerator, but most home refrigerators are too humid for the peanuts to keep well.