Native to South America, the Peanut is not really a nut but is a legume belonging to the bean family.
The seeds contained in the underground pods are used extensively for human consumption and the oil has many industrial uses. Animals will readily eat the green foliage, the seeds and the dry crop residue as well. As a nitrogen-fixing legume, if plowed under or used as a green mulch, it will enrich the soil for future crops.
Seeds are best sown before heavy rains begin as the peanut’s particular growing habit, “pegging” requires the soil to be light, sandy and level. After pollination, the flower falls off and a “peg” begins to grow, from the base of the flower. It bends down and pushes into the soil where the pods form and mature in the dry season
Harvesting and Seed Production
Peanuts are ready for harvest when the insides of the Peanut hulls turn dark, before nuts begin to sprout. Plants may be plowed up or dug, left in the field to dry either in a loose, fluffy windrow or tied to a pole. Depending on moisture in the air, Peanuts will need to be dried further by hot air or hanging in a dry place in burlap sacks until moisture has dropped to 10% and nuts will rattle when shaken. Seeds matured during a rainy spell can become toxic due to fungi.
Pests and Diseases
The potato leafhopper and mites feeding on the underside of the leaf both cause yellowing of the leaf. Irrigation may help to dislodge both pests
Cooking and Nutrition
The ripe seeds are used primarily as a high protein food crop for humans but unripe pods can be eaten as a vegetable. The nut can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled, ground for butter or pressed for oil. Peanuts contain a good amount of minerals necessary for good health. In certain sensitive individuals, an allergy to this food can be quite severe