How the peanut plant grows
The peanut is unusual because if flowers above the ground, but fruits below the ground. Typical misconceptions of how peanuts grow places them on trees (like walnuts or pecans) or growing as a part of a root like potatoes.
Peanut seeds (kernels) grow into a green oval-leafed plant about 18 inches tall, which develop delicate flowers around the lower portion of the plant. The flowers pollinate themselves and then lose their petals as the fertilized ovary begins to enlarge. The budding ovary or “peg” grows down, away from the plant, forming a small stem which extends to the soil.
The Peanut embryo is in the tip of the peg, which penetrates the soil. The embryo turns horizontal to the soil surface and begins to mature, taking the form of a peanut. The plant continues to grow and flower, eventually producing some 40 or more mature pods. From planting to harvesting, the growing cycle takes about four to five months, depending on the type or variety. The peanut is a nitrogen-fixing plant; its roots form modules, which absorb nitrogen from the air, and provide enrichment and nutrition to the plant and soils.
How You Can Grow A Peanut Plant
- Raw peanuts
(may be purchased right here at the Texoma Peanut Inn)
- Flower pot or container with drainage hole (6-8 inches in diameter)
- Sandy or sandy loam soil
- Soak peanuts in water overnight
- Fill pot with soil to one inch below rim
- Plant three peanuts 1 to 2 inches deep. Cover firmly with soil but do not pack
- Keep soil moist (not wet). Maintain a temperature of 65 degrees F. or above (80 degrees F. is ideal)
Peanuts should sprout within five to eight days. Continue to keep plant in a warm location exposed to direct sunlight as much as possible. Blooms will likely appear approximately 45 days after the peanut plant has emerged. (Production of peanuts on potted plant is unlikely, but may occur if kept growing for a minimum of three months)
Growing Peanuts in the Garden
CLIMATE FOR PEANUTS
For high yields and superior quality, peanuts require a moderate growing period (110 to 120 days) with a steady, rather high temperature and a moderate, uniformly distributed supply of moisture. The growing season should be long, warm and moist, and the harvest season should be dry.
SOIL FOR PEANUTS
Light-colored, well-drained, sandy loam soils are ideal for growing peanuts. Since the taproot of the peanut plant frequently penetrates to a depth of 18 inches, it is important that the subsoil be deep and well drained and without tendencies to become excessively dry.
*Peanuts should not be grown on the same land for successive years (alternate with corn, potatoes, etc.).
Raw peanuts with redskins, intact and unbroken, should be used. Seeds may be left in the outer shell; however, germination will be faster if shelled peanuts are planted. (Raw peanuts may be purchased here in the Texoma Peanut Inn.) Commercial peanut farmers use seeds treated for disease, but this is not necessary for the home garden.
SOIL PREPARATION AND FERTILIZATION
Soil should be worked until loose and prepared. Space rows 24 to 36 inches apart.
Peanuts respond best to residual fertilization that has been applied to the crop preceding the peanuts; however, if the area to be planted has not been fertilized during the prior 12 months, then prior to planting, apply 10 pounds 0-10-20 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet.
Plant seeds as early as possible in the spring after there is no danger of frost. Plant only when the soil is moist and at least 65E F. at seed depth, (2 to 4 inches).
Space seeds four to six inches apart at a depth of about two inches. Cover furrows with soil and lightly pack. Plants emerge in 10 to 15 days depending on soil and weather conditions. When plants are about one inch high, thin to about eight inches apart.
Control grass and weeds. In cultivating, never throw dirt on the peanut plant.
When blossoms appear on the peanut plants, apply Gypsum [calcium (CaSO4) sulphate] in a 14-inch band over the plants (does not burn) at the rate of 15 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. This is essential to the formation of the peanut kernels.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
As the peanut plant grows and develops, small yellow blossoms appear that are capable of self-pollination. With maturity, these blooms wilt and a stem or “peg” forms. Gravity pulls the peg downward into the soil where the peanut pod forms.
The outer shell reaches full size well before the individual peanuts mature. Each plant produces between 25 and 50 peanuts. Mature plants may be as large as 36 inches in diameter and about 18 inches tall.
The peanut plant has a fruiting period of about two months. All pods do not “set” or ripen evenly. The object is to harvest when the greatest number of pods are matured.
When a peanut is ripe, the veins of the hull are prominent and the inside of the hull has turned dark. If the inside of the hull is white, the pod is immature. Pull a plant to examine pods for readiness. Dig when about two-thirds of the pods on a plant are mature.
If the soil is packed down around the plant, loosen it gently. Shake off as much of the soil as possible (if the earth is damp and sticks to the peanuts, shake again later when it has had time to dry.)
DRYING (OR CURING)
Allow plants, with peanuts still attached, to “cure” in full hot sun for four to seven days (may be left, turned peanuts side up on the garden row) or inside a dry, well ventilated area (may be hung or spread in garage basement or storage building). Ventilation is important to the curing process of reducing the initial moisture level of about 50% to a safe storage level of about 10%. Inside curing may take from two to four weeks. When the curing process is completed, peanuts may be separated from the plant and used or stored.
Peanuts should be stored in a cool, dry place. They keep fresh indefinitely when stored in a tightly closed container in the freezer.