How do peanuts grow?

Peanut plant to show how peanuts grow Many people think that peanuts, just like walnuts and pecans, grow on trees but this is not true. Well, how do peanuts grow then? Although the name is confusing, peanuts are considered to be legumes, not nuts. Unlike most other plants, the peanut plant flowers above ground but the fruits, the peanut, grows below ground. The peanut plant is quite a nice plant to see, it has a nice green leafs and yellow flowers, if you saw it you would not have guessed that underneath the ground were peanuts developing!

Below we will describe the growth process of the peanut. You will gradually find your answer to the question on how peanuts grow.



Peanut seeds are planted

Every plant starts with a seed. In the United States peanut plants are usually planted in late April through early June, this period of time is quite specific because the peanuts cannot handle frost. The best type of ground to grow peanuts in is a sandy type of soil, that is why most of the peanuts are grown in the southern states. Clay is not that useful for growing peanuts but will work as well. The seeds are planted about 1 to 4 inches deep, this depends on how dry the soil is, if the soil is really dry then you will have to plant the seeds a bit deeper so they have access to water. The different plants should be about 2 to 3 feet apart, according to farming experts the ideal distance between the different peanut plants is 18 inches (45 cm).

The peanut seeds will rise out of the ground at about ten days after the seed has been planted, in about one month time you can clearly see the development from seed to plant. After about 40 days you can see beautiful little yellow flowers emerge at the bottom half of the plant, the top half only contains green leafs. The peanut plant can grow up to 18 inches tall, this is about the same for all types of different peanut seeds.



Yellow flowers emerge on the peanut plant

The peanut plant starts to peg

The yellow flowers of the peanut plant will pollinate themselves; the little leafs of the flower (the petals) eventually fall off and the peanut ovary will begin to form. The stem that the flower was on will get longer and grow away from the rest of the plant until it eventually touches the ground: touchdown! When the stem with the ovary on it touches the ground it will eventually penetrate the soil. The stem is what we call a peg, hence the process is called pegging. Farmers usually lose up the soil a bit to give the stem some space in order to enhance the pegging process, this has to be done really careful because we do not want to break the pegs.

Water for the peanut plant

The peanut plant needs a lot of water to grow, about 1 to 2 inches per week in order to enhance the development of the kernel. In warm states such as New Mexico, Georgia and Texas it does not always rain enough, farmers therefore use irrigation systems (a system of tubes underneath the ground) to water their fields.



A farmer harvesting peanuts

Harvesting the peanuts

After about 120 to 160 days the peanuts are fully grown and ready to be harvested. A clear sign that the peanuts are ready is when the green leafs of the peanut plant start to turn yellow. Digging up the peanut plant must be done really carefully, farmers usually wait for the ideal weather conditions so that the soil is not too wet or too dry. When you dig up the peanut too early it can be toxic, when you dig up the peanut too late chances are that the peanut has already started sprouting and a new peanut plant is forming!

When the peanuts are fresh out of the ground they are very moist, they contain about 25 to 50 percent moist. Before being sold they first must be dried in the field, this is usually done in long horizontal windrows, this way the sun will dry the peanuts. Each peanut plant produces about 20 to 30 pods. However, this can go up to even 40 pods per plant!

Heating and storing the peanuts

After the peanuts have dried on the field they still contain too much moist to store. Therefore the peanuts are loaded into large machines where warm air circulates so that the peanuts dry even more. The desired moisture content is about ten percent.

Planting peanuts yourself

Did you know that you can grow your own peanuts? Now that you know how peanuts grow you can do the entire process yourself. All you have to do is go to your local supermarket and buy a bag of un-roasted raw peanuts, take the shells off and plant them in the ground. Remember that the seeds are not frost-resistant so the best period to plant them is from April to June.

Conclusion

Now you have your answer to the question "How do peanuts grow?". Surprising, right? Just a quick recap: plant seeds, water them, plant forms, pull out plant, dry peanuts. And that is how peanuts grow!
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