The peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is not really a nut at all, but a legume that
grows much like beans and peas except for one fact. Although the peanut
flowers above ground, the pods (shells and fruits) form below ground. So how
do we grow them?
Peanuts are a warm weather annual plant and require about 120 days from planting to maturity. The fruits develop very close to the surface, so they are definitely not tolerant to frost.
Plant peanuts when soil temperatures reach about 65F. You can find some varieties in seed catalogs. If you plant peanuts you buy, you need to purchase unroasted ones. Shell them and plant the fruit (the peanut), which also doubles as the seed. Plant seeds in loose, well-drained soil about six inches apart and two inches deep. Plants should emerge in ten to fourteen days.
Although peanuts require a moist environment, take care not to over-water them since even pods forming in saturated ground can sprout. Cultivate peanuts with care, since the pods are very shallow. An inch or two of mulch will keep most weeds out. Pull visible weeds by hand.
Peanut plants should bloom about a month after the plants emerge. The delicate yellow flowers are pea-like in appearance. After bloom, the plant grows a peg that carries the seed under the soil to grow and ripen to maturity. Although individual flowers bloom for only a day, the plant continues to flower throughout the growing season, so they shouldn’t be harvested until the oldest plants begin to turn yellow. This usually occurs nine to ten weeks after bloom.
Choose your peanut type by how you intend to use it after harvest. The four basic types of peanut are Runner, Virginia, Spanish, and Valencia. Each has characteristics that help determine how it is best used after harvest.