Know Your Nuts: How Are Peanuts Grown? Can You Plant Your Own?

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Jan 24, 2024 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Oct 25, 2021
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Peeled peanut on rung cloth
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.1 Min

Peanuts are great sources of protein and who doesn't love munching on roasted peanuts?

Often thought of as a variety of nuts, the peanut is actually a vegetable that belongs to the legume family. Growing a peanut plant in your home is not as hard as it seems and many people in the US do grow peanut plants in their gardens.

Many people are fond of growing plants in their homes but often you see they do not grow much apart from simple plants like basil and lettuce. You will be surprised to know how easy it is to grow peanuts in your garden. You can make your own peanut butter from your peanut plant at home. Growing peanuts is easy as they do not require elaborate techniques or materials. A unique feature of the peanut plant is that while the peanut seeds grow inside the soil, their flowers develop above the ground. It takes about five months for the peanut to harvest from the time the seeds are planted.

There are four basic types of peanuts you can grow depending on their size and flavor, Virginia, Valencia, Spanish, and runner. There are even many subspecies of each of these peanuts. The United States is a major producer of peanuts in the world accounting for about 3% due to its higher yield in a small area. Warm air and acidic soil is needed to form peanut with shells. So, the month of April in the US is ideal for planting the peanut.

After the last frost around April, the nuts are planted, which will take about five months until fall approaches. The time between fall and spring is not a good time for the nuts to mature and planting of seeds under the ground will not lead to any plant forming during this time. The peanuts contain kernels under the shell, which are also edible parts.

If you loved reading this article, why not also read how are bricks made? And how are pistachios grown?

Where are peanuts grown in the world?

The peanut plant is commonly grown in many places around the world. Originating from South America, you will find peanut planting has spread to areas with a warm climate such as Africa, Asia, and some locations in North America. Peanut butter is the most common form of peanut used globally due to its high nutrient-rich properties.

The highest producer of peanuts in the world is China and it contributes to a large part of their economy. More than half of the country’s peanut plants are grown in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Henan, and Shandong. India ranks right below China as the second-highest peanut-producing nation. Most of the peanuts in India grow in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. The hot and humid climate of India along with the vast area is suitable for peanut planting.

Peanuts contain a lot of protein and are, therefore, a good crop for any country. Nigeria is the largest producer of peanuts in Africa accounting for 30% of the nation’s yield. Peanut is a source of cooking oil and provides protein to people. The nation of Senegal is another major producer of peanuts and many big organizations have set up their branches in the nation.

In the United States, 13 states grow peanuts on a commercial level. These include Texas, South Carolina, New Mexico, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia. Almost 25,000 farmers toil hard to cultivate peanut trees in the US. The states are divided into three regions. The Southwest region consists of Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma growing runner, Virginia, and Spanish peanut types. The Southeast region which consists of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi produces a medium kernel runner variety of peanuts. Lastly, the Carolina-Virginia region harvests Virginia peanut plants of large kernel type.

Do peanuts grow on a bush or under the ground?

Peanut trees occupy an unusual place in nature. The flowers and leaves grow above the ground but the peanut develops beneath the ground. Many people have this misconception that peanuts grow like walnuts above ground.

The height of a peanut plant can be anywhere in the range of 6-30 in (15-76 cm) depending on its variety. Many have spreading branches while some are erect and upright. Yellow flowers develop on the stems after about seven weeks of planting. After the flowers pollinate, the petals fall off. The peanut ovary begins to form from the fallen petals of flowers and roots form a few inches below ground and produce seed ends from the budding ovary, which are known as peduncles or pegs.

The peanut embryo is located at the tip of the pegs. The pegs are pods that grow into the peanuts you know. The pods become horizontal under the ground and slowly change into the peanut shape you are familiar with.

You can get an average of 35 peanuts from one peanut plant. Don’t be surprised if you see new peanut plants growing a year after you harvest your crop. This happens since the peanuts spread via the underground shoots and you may not need to plant new seeds. The shoots grow modules that absorb nitrogen from the air providing nutrition to the peanut plant. You can see from this why people call peanuts a nitrogen-fixing plant.

Can you grow a peanut plant from a peanut?

Peanut harvesting is done in the United States after the last frost which occurs between April and May. The temperature of the soil surface remains around 70°F (21°C) during this period, which the peanut plants need. Mature peanut kernels are farmers stored from the crop of the previous year and are then planted about two inches deep into the soil. A rich seedbed that is well prepared is ensured by the tillage done during the pre-planting stage. About 145 frost-free days are needed for good peanut crop harvesting.

After ten days of planting the seed, peanut seedlings come out from the soil and mature into green leaves that are 18 in (45.7 cm) tall. You will notice yellow flowers emerging from the lower parts of the peanut tree after a month. The petals fall off as soon as the flowers pollinate by themselves, and shortly after the formation of the peanut ovary begins.

This budding ovary is known as a peg, which forms a small stem going into the soil. The tip of the peg contains the peanut embryo and this takes the shape of the peanut. A total time of five months is required from the planting of peanuts until its harvesting. The time changes depending on the variety of peanuts.

When the peanuts are almost ready for harvesting, the farmer has to check whether the soil is too dry or too wet. After the conditions are adequate, a digger is used to pull up the plant. The digger can go six inches into the soil. The soil is shaken off slowly and laid down in a windrow with leaves down and peanuts up. The peanuts have about 50% moisture content when they are dug up, this has to be no more than 10% for storage purposes.

The peanuts are dried by keeping them in windows, which takes about three days. Combining is used to separate the peanuts from vines, and the vines are used as food for livestock. The combined peanuts are further cured using forced warm air that circulates through the wagon in which they are kept.

Peanuts with shell served on table

Methods For Growing Your Own Peanuts

Growing peanuts at your home are not that difficult and you can do it without much hassle. Since a peanut plant is nitrogen-fixing, you can grow them in poor soil until the soil remains loose. You can harvest peanuts in your garden in the ground or maybe even in containers. Growing peanuts in containers are suitable as you can bring them inside in case of sudden chilly weather. The container must have at least 12 in (30 cm) of depth and 18 in (46 cm) of width. The only requirement of the peanut is that it has to be kept in full sun.

Always use a raw peanut seed with the whole shell for the crop and never use roasted or boiled peanuts. The nut is a good crop for planting at home due to its nitrogen-fixing properties. The peanuts need a healthy amount of space for spreading out. Keep a gap of 15 in (38 cm) between the peanut seeds, and provide lots of water. You will see small yellow flowers appearing in two months. Loosen the soil around the tree a little during this time. Sandy soil with a bit of acidity is ideal for peanut harvesting. You do not need to add heavy fertilizers to the nut crop.

The whole process of growing peanuts takes about five months. When you see the leaves changing into a yellow color and the plant looks to be dying, prepare to harvest the peanut plant. Do not harvest when the leaves are green and healthy. Dig the whole plant out before the first frost. The plants above the soil surface have to be shaken off and the plant left to dry for some days. Remove the pods when you see the leaves begin crumbling. You can keep the peanuts with shells for three months in a dark and dry place. The dried peanuts can be kept for up to a year in a dry and cool place. You can eat the shelled nut by roasting or using it to make peanut butter.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how are peanuts grown? Then why not take a look at how deep are electric lines buried?

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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