Botanically known as Arachis hypogaea, groundnut, is a legume crop grown for its edible seeds. It is also known as peanuts, and is grown in the tropics and subtropical regions of the world.
The parts of a groundnut (peanut) include;
- Shell (the outer covering).
- Cotyledon (the two edible seeds).
- Seed coat (a brown paper like cover for the seeds).
- Radicle (embryonic root at the bottom of the cotyledon).
- Plumule (embryonic shoot emerging from the top of the radicle).
Despite having the word “nut” in its name, groundnut is not actually a nut. A nut is defined as a fruit whose ovary wall becomes hard at maturity. Hazels, pecans, and acorns are considered true nuts.
Groundnuts are legumes because they have edible seeds enclosed in a pod and belong to the same family as beans and peas. However, for culinary purposes and common usage, they are regarded as nuts.
China dominates the production of groundnut in the world. Nigeria is the largest producer of groundnut in Africa and the third largest producer of groundnut. Some of the states which produce it are; Kano, Kaduna, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno, and Adamawa.
Interesting fact: Astronaut Alan Sheppard brought a peanut with him to the moon in 1971. It was the first astro-nut.
The process of groundnut cultivation has been broken down into; pre-production, production, and post-production phases.
Some of the factors to consider before venturing into groundnut planting are:
Groundnuts require light sandy or loamy soil to grow because it thrives well in well drained soil with high fertility. A Ph level of 6.0 -7.0 is also required and before planting commences, weeds and crop residue must be buried.
Crop rotation is a necessary part of groundnut farming because it helps in nutrient utilization and reduction of crop pests and diseases. It is not a good idea to grow groundnuts on the same soil groundnut was previously harvested from. Instead, grow groundnut after other crops such as maize, sorghum, or any other cereal plant.
Warm and moist weather conditions are suitable for groundnut cultivation. The mean daily temperature for groundnut to grow is 30 degrees celsius.
When the temperature is too cold, it could expose the crops to seed rot and seedling diseases. The crops cannot stand severe cold, drought, and water stagnation.
Interesting fact: There are 6 cities in the U.S named Peanut. There’s Peanut (in California), Upper Peanut (in Pennsylvania), Lower Peanut (in Pennsylvania), Peanut (Pennsylvania), Peanut (Tennessee), and Peanut (in West Virginia).
The production process of groundnut cultivation is very delicate as any wrong practices could lead to crop loss. The following steps can serve as a guide:
Groundnut planting season in Nigeria is between May and June. Its recommended spacing is 75cm between the rows and 25 cm between the plants within the rows.
Groundnuts grow below the soil and the seedling cracks the soil about 10 days after planting while flowers begin to appear about 40 days after planting.
It can be inter cropped with cereals and grains.
A study on groundnut yield response to nutrients revealed that a 20 kg P ha–1 application of phosphorus to groundnut in Nigeria resulted in an increase of grain yields by 39.04%22.
Application of calcium also enhances pod yields and increase in kernel yields. Deficiencies of nutrients such as boron can lead to damaged seeds.
You can carry out organic fertilization by mixing chicken manure or farmyard manure into soil about 1 month before planting for plant development.
Pest and Disease control:
Pest and diseases are one of the factors that cause crop loss during cultivation. If not maintained properly, some diseases can spread and cause damage. To avoid this, some of the pests that can inhibit groundnut cultivation are:
Caterpillars cause damage to peanut plants by feeding off the leaves. Insecticides can be used to control it.
Nematodes causes gall to appear on peanut roots. Maintain nematode attacks by planting resistant varieties.
Mite infestation, caused by spider mites, makes leaves to turn yellow and may drop from the plant. Mites thrive in dusty conditions. If plants are water deprived, they might attack. It can be managed by water or chemical insecticides.
Some of the diseases to watch out for are:
Caused by fungi, Fungal causes numerous spots on the upper surface of leaflets. Spraying fungicides help manage fungal diseases.
Caused by fungus, charcoal rot causes the leaves to turn yellow and wilt. Crop rotation and proper irrigation practices help manage charcoal rot.
Also caused by fungus, rust causes reddish brown spots on leaves. Land farrowing and fungicides help control rust.
Interesting fact: It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
After successful planting, the next steps to take are:
Groundnuts take about 4-5 months to mature. When mature, you can harvest manually or mechanically depending on the scale of production.
You harvest manually by uprooting the plant from the soil, shaking it to ward off dirt, and inverting to keep the groundnut out of the soil. The mechanical process is the same, except it involves the use of a tractor.
After harvesting, dry groundnuts for about three to four days (to reduce original moisture content) before snapping off its pods.
Moistness or poor storage facilities could lead to fungus infection. Store groundnuts in dry conditions to prevent infections.
Store peanuts in bags. Stack the bags in separate stacks for sufficient air circulation. Furthermore, you can pile the bags on wooden planks to avoid damage.
You can use groundnuts for a variety of things. Some of them include:
- Processing groundnut into peanut butter.
- Roasting, boiling, or drying groundnuts to eat as snacks.
- Making delicious Nigerian delicacies such as Kuli kuli and groundnut soup.
- Milling groundnut flour from groundnut.
- Extracting groundnut milk from it.
- Processing groundnut into groundnut oil for cooking.
- Processing groundnut oil into bio diesel fuel, laxatives, dye, shampoo, and glue.
- Adding groundnut to chocolates, cakes, and other confectionery dishes add groundnuts.
Interesting fact: Groundnut milk does not contain lactose and is considered suitable for people who are lactose intolerant.
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