All About Growing Peanuts

Growing peanuts is easy in warm climates, but even Northern gardeners can try growing this snackable, protein-rich storage crop. This guide includes descriptions of the types of peanuts, how to plant peanuts, harvesting, and the curious reproductive behavior of the peanut plant.

| December 16, 2013

Peanuts Illustration

Whatever you call your harvest — peanuts, ground nuts, goober peas — this crop is fun to grow, and it rounds out your pantry staples nicely by adding snacks and the base for fresh-ground nut butter.

Illustration By Keith Ward

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

A semi-tropical legume originally from Brazil, peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) are also called groundnuts because the nuts grow below the ground. A peanut plant needs at least 100 days of warm weather to make a mature crop, but fast-maturing Valencia or Spanish peanuts can be grown in the north. Growing peanuts is easiest in climates where both days and nights stay warm in summer, such as the Southeast. Peanuts require full sun and soil temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Types of Peanuts

Valencia peanuts are the most popular type for the home gardener. The fastest maturing Valencia varieties are often ready to dig 100 days after planting. Famous for their sweet flavor and well-filled pods, each pod usually contains three to five seeds. Varieties include ‘Georgia Red,’ ‘New Mexico Valencia’ and ‘Tennessee Red.’

Spanish peanuts produce small, rounded nuts with fine flavor and a crisp texture when roasted with oil. Maturing about 110 days after planting, Spanish peanuts have an erect growth habit with good drought tolerance. Varieties include ‘Early Spanish,’ ‘Carolina Black’ and ‘Shronce’s Black.’

Runners are sprawling varieties that grow best in the Deep South. Maturing in 130 to 150 days, disease-resistant varieties such as ‘Southern Runner’ and ‘Georgia’ produce medium-sized kernels, two to a pod, beneath vigorous, spreading peanut plants.

Virginia peanuts are a little more restrained than runners, but they still need 130 to 150 days of warm weather to make a crop. These are the big peanuts found in snack foods, or sold as freshly roasted peanuts. Varieties include ‘Carwile’s Virginia’ and ‘Virginia Jumbo.’

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