This plant is rich in names, being known locally as "ground pea,"
"goober," "earthnut," and "pindar," as well as generally by the name of
"peanut." The peanut is a true legume, and, like other legumes, bears
nitrogen-gathering tubercles upon its roots. The fruit is not a real nut
but rather a kind of pea or bean, and develops from the blossom. After
the fall of the blossom the "spike," or flower-stalk, pushes its way
into the ground, where the nut develops. If unable to penetrate the soil
the nut dies.
In the United States, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee
have the most favorable climates for peanut culture. Suitable climate
and soil, however, may be found from New Jersey to the Mississippi
valley. A high, porous, sandy loam is the most suitable. Stiffer soils,
which may in some cases yield larger crops than the loams, are yet not
so profitable, for stiff soils injure the color of the nut. Lime is a
necessity and must be supplied if the soil is deficient. Phosphoric acid
and potash are needed.
Greater care than is usually bestowed should be given to the selection
of the peanut seed. In addition to following the principles given in
Section XVIII, all musty, defective seeds must be avoided and all
frosted kernels must be rejected. Before it dries, the peanut seed is
easily injured by frost. The slightest frost on the vines, either before
or after the plants are dug, does much harm to the tender seed.
In growing peanuts, thorough preparation of the soil is much better than
later cultivation. Destroy the crop of young weeds, but do not disturb
the peanut crop by late cultivation. Harvest before frost, and shock
high to keep the vines from the ground.
The average yield of peanuts in the United States is twenty-two bushels
an acre. In Tennessee the yield is twenty-nine bushels an acre, and in
North Carolina and Virginia it reaches thirty bushels an acre.
Next: Sweet Potatoes