|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Peanut (Arachis hypoyaea). Popularly the peanut, as the name indicates, is called a nut, but it more properly falls into the class of grain or forage crops. The fruit or "nut" is really a pod, comparable with a bean-pod or pea-pod. The plant is related to beans and peas. The seeds (comparable with bean seeds) furnish excellent food for man as well as for his beasts and fowls, and the cured tops make an excellent hay or forage.
Commercially, the peanut is not grown north of the latitude of Washington, D. C., but on the sandy and loamy soils to the south and west of the above-named city, on lands that have recently been limed, it may be used as a rotation or as a special money crop. North of this territory the plant can be used with profit as a forage for hogs, although only a portion of the pods set will come to maturity. As a garden plant, the peanut can be grown as far north as central New York, but only a few pods will actually mature seeds, except in long warm growing seasons.
There are two general types of peanuts: those known as bunch nuts, and as vine or trailing nuts. The bunch nuts are most desirable because the tops can be more easily harvested for forage, the rows may be closer together and the distance between the plants in the row may be less than with the vining types. The cultivation as well as the harvesting (digging) is easier. The bunch type of nuts, such as the Spanish and Valencia, may be planted in rows 30 to 36 inches apart, with the seeds scattered 6 to 10 inches apart along the row.
The large-seeded thick-shelled nuts require to be shelled before planting in order to insure satisfactory germination, but the smaller thin-shelled sorts may be planted whole and a good stand secured. The planting season, as well as the field care of peanuts, is practically the same as for corn. They are tender to frost and grow best during warm weather. The vines will be killed by the first frosts, but when desired for forage should be harvested in advance of that date. As the pods or nuts are borne beneath the surface of the soil, the crop is harvested by lifting or plowing out the whole plant, separating it from the earth and curing the plant and pods together by stacking them in tall narrow stacks built up around a slender stake about 6 feet high, at the bottom of which cleats 3 feet long have been nailed in such a way as to keep the plants off the ground. The stacks are so built as to cause the vines to protect the nuts. The roots with the nuts attached are placed next to the stake, with the tops out. This method permits the nuts to be cured slowly and without discoloration or staining that would result were the nuts exposed to the weather. The plant is a most interesting one, both horticulturally and botanically, and is at the same time an important economic crop as well as a garden novelty. CH
Peanuts are also known as earthnuts, goobers, goober peas, pindas, jack nuts, pinders, manila nuts and monkey balls. (The last of these is often used to mean the entire pod, not just the seeds. In the UK these are sold as monkey nuts.)
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Pests and diseases
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Thousands of peanut cultivars are grown, with four major Cultivar Groups being the most popular: Spanish, Runner, Virginia, and Valenciawp. There are also Tennessee Red and Tennessee White groupswp. Certain Cultivar Groups are preferred for particular uses because of differences in flavor, oil content, size, shape, and disease resistance. For many uses the different cultivars are interchangeable. Most peanuts marketed in the shell are of the Virginia type, along with some Valencias selected for large size and the attractive appearance of the shell. Spanish peanuts are used mostly for peanut candy, salted nuts, and peanut butter. Most Runners are used to make peanut butter.wp
The various types are distinguished by branching habit and branch length. There are numerous varieties of each type of peanut. There are two main growth forms, bunch and runner. Bunch types grow upright, while runner types grow near the ground.wp
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963