Did you know the peanut plant is over 7600 years old? Evidence has been found that they originated in Peru. The spread of the peanut across the globe is attributed to the European who traveled extensively in their trading.
Native to Central America, South America and Mexico, the peanut plant grows to about one and a half feet in height.
How Do Peanuts Grow?
This plant develops flowers which form in clusters and the flowers shrivel. The stalk lengthens and turns towards the ground burying the pods which have formed.
When the peanut seed has ripened, the seed coat will turn to a reddish brown. The plant is then harvested. The whole plant is usually removed when the peanuts are harvested.
Among other names peanuts have been called goobers, goober peas, manila nuts and monkey nuts. The soil most preferred by this plant is a light, sandy soil.
They need to have five months of warm weather as well as anywhere from 20 to 40 inches of rain. Watering is often necessary to make sure they get the required amount.
Once planted, it takes approximately 3 to 4 months for the pods of the peanut plant to ripen. It’s crucial for the grower to get the timing right when it comes to harvesting the peanuts.
If you harvest them too early, the pods are not ripe. If it is too late they will break off the stalk and stay in the ground.
Problems Associated with Growing Peanuts
Peanuts are particular when it comes to the growth period and storing them. If not stored properly they are prone to an infection.
This is caused by a mold fungus and will release toxic substances in the area where the peanuts are grown and stored. These toxins are called alfatoxin. This can get in the peanuts as well.
When the peanuts are harvested a machine goes through and cuts the main root of the plant. When it is cut just below where the pods are, the machine will pick up the plant, shake it and put it on the ground upside down so the peanuts can dry.
After the drying process is over, the pods are removed from what remains of the original plant.
Are Peanuts Nutritious?
Peanut are very nutritious and the seeds have some of the following vitamins:
- Vitamin E
These are just a few of the nutrients found in peanuts. The combination of peanuts, peanut butter and nutrition meals containing peanuts are traded worldwide.
The fifth in importance when it comes to oilseed, the peanut is used many different ways. People eat them raw, boiled, roasted and cooking oil is made from the peanut. Peanut oil is also an industrial material.
Where Are Peanuts Grown?
The U.S. was the third largest producer of peanuts until approximately the mid-1990s. Nigeria now holds that distinction. The largest growers are China and India although the peanut is grown in over 100 countries.
Within these countries, the planting of peanuts is usually grown at an elevation below 1250 meter. Many can be grown at higher elevations as well. The plant growth is affected by the amount of light it gets.
The ones that grow in bunches are more affected by the temperature than any other type. The best temperature for growing is between 77 and 86 degrees.
Once the peanut plant is established in the ground, it is not affected by dry weather. It will tolerate flooding to a certain extent. Once the pods ripen rainfall can harm the product because the conditions for maturing need to be in line with the needs of the plant.
What are the Different Uses of the Peanut?
The peanut plant is used for many different things. Here are just a few of them:
- The leaves and vines are used to make hay for horses that is very high protein.
- The shells can be used for home heating.
- The shells can also be used for livestock feed.
- Shells are also used to construct particle board.
- The seeds are used to make peanut oil.
- The oil keeps longer than many other types of oil.
- Peanut oil can be used for cooking as well as a fuel.
So, as you can see this is one plant that every single part can be used for something. This is why the peanut plant is such a great cash crop to grow and has a high market value.