Gardening

How to plant peanuts

Arachis hypogaea

Peanuts are a plant in the Fabaceae family, like beans and peas. Their pods, however, develop inside the soil. The flower stalk, after pollination, curves downwards, continuing to grow until it buries the flower’s ovary. In the soil, the pods develop and mature.

There are three main groups of peanut cultivars:

Spanish or Spanish Group – cultivars of the Spanish group have plants that grow upright, early harvest, with small and clear seeds, and that have the highest amount of lipids. Their pods usually have two seeds.

Grupo Valencia – cultivars of the Valencia group also have plants that grow upright, early harvest, but their seeds are dark and their pods have 3 to 5 seeds.

Virgínia Group – Virgínia group cultivars have very branched plants, with shrub or low growth, and late harvest. They have large seeds, usually with two seeds per pod.

Climate

Peanuts can be grown in regions with average temperatures between 20 ° C and 30 ° C throughout the plant’s growing cycle. The plant cannot withstand low temperatures. As rain affects pollination, the ideal is that the climate remains dry during the flowering period.

Brightness

Peanuts need high light, with direct sunlight for at least a few hours a day.

Ground

Cultivate preferably in well-drained, light, loose, fertile soil and rich in organic matter. The ideal soil pH for growing peanuts is between 5.5 and 6.5. The plant can form in its roots a symbiotic association with bacteria known as rhizobia or rhizobium (genus Bradyrhizobium ), capable of fixing the nitrogen of the air in the soil as ammonia or nitrate, providing at least part of the nitrogen needed by the plants.

Irrigation

Irrigate in order to keep the soil always moist, without being soaked. During flowering, reduce or suspend irrigation to avoid harming pollination.

Planting

The seeds are usually sown directly at the final location. The seeds can also be sown in small pots or 10 cm tall newsprint cups. Seedlings are transplanted when they are 10 to 15 cm tall.

The recommended spacing is 15 to 30 cm between the plants and 60 to 80 cm between the planting lines.

Peanuts can be grown in pots and other containers, but they must have a minimum diameter of 50 cm.

Cultivation

Keep the plantation free of invasive plants that compete with peanuts for resources and nutrients.

For cultivars that grow upright (Spanish and Valencian groups), pile up soil next to the plants before flowering or as soon as the first flowers appear. This facilitates the arrival of the flower’s ovary to the soil and improves productivity.

Harvest

The pods can be harvested from 100 days to almost six months after sowing, varying according to the cultivar planted and the cultivation conditions.

The peanut harvest is carried out when the leaves of the plants are yellow. Remove some pods from the soil and check if the inside of the pod has darker veins, which indicates that they are ripe and ready for harvest.

The plants are pulled out of the soil and left in a place protected from rain and moisture with the roots and pods exposed, for drying for one or two weeks. If the harvest is delayed, when pulling the plant, the pods can detach from the plant and stay in the soil. After drying, the pods come off the plant easily and can be collected and stored in a cool, dry place for several months, or the peanuts can be removed and used.

The fungus Aspergillus flavus can develop if the harvest is carried out in conditions of high humidity, if there is a delay in drying or if the peanuts are stored improperly. This fungus produces aflotoxins, which are toxic and carcinogenic substances, therefore being a serious health risk. If the peanut is contaminated or shows signs of mold, it should not be used in any way for human or animal food.

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