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How to Grow Peanuts

How to Grow Peanuts: Peanuts require at least 120 frost-free days to reach harvest. Sow peanuts in the garden 3 to 4 weeks after the average last frost date in spring.

Peanuts in gardenThe peanut is a warm-weather perennial vegetable that requires 120 to 130 frost-free days to reach harvest. Sow peanuts in the garden 3 to 4 weeks after the average last frost date in spring, when the soil has warmed to at least 65°F (18°C). To get a head start on the season start peanuts indoors 5 to 8 weeks before transplanting seedlings outdoors.

Description. The peanut is a tender perennial usually grown as an annual, a member of the legume family. The peanut plant grows from 6 to 30 inches (15-76cm) tall, depending on the type; some are upright and erect in habit, others are more spreading. Plants form two sets of opposite leaves on each stem and yellow, sweet-pea-like, self-pollinating flowers. The flowers occur on elongated, pea-like stems just above the soil and after pollination, they dip and push into the ground 1 to 3 inches (1.5-7cm) to develop underground seed ends called pegs or peduncles; these are the seed pods we call peanuts.

Types of Peanuts

There are four basic types of peanuts:

  • Runner. Runner type has uniform medium-sized seeds, usually two seeds per pod, growing from a low bush. Runner types are ready for harvest 130 to 150 days from planting. The uniform sizes of the seed make these a good choice for roasting (often used as beer nuts) and peanut butter. Runner types are grown in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas.
  • Spanish. Spanish-type has small, roundish seeds covered with reddish-brown skin, growing on a low bush. Spanish-types are ready to harvest 120 days from planting. The Spanish-type peanut has high oil content and is used for oil, peanut butter, and snacks. Spanish-type peanuts are commonly grown in Oklahoma, Texas, and South Africa.
  • Virginia. Virginia type has the largest seed of the four peanut types; the seed is most often roasted. There are commonly two and sometimes three seeds per pod. The Virginia type peanut stands to 24 inches (61cm) tall and spreads to 30 inches (76cm) wide and is ready for harvest 130 to 150 days from harvest. Virginia type peanuts are mostly grown from southeastern Virginia into northeastern North Carolina.
  • Valencia. Valencia type has three to six small, oval seeds crowded into each pod. Each seed is covered with bright-red skin. Valencia peanuts are often roasted in-the-shell or boiled fresh and are often used in confection and cocktails. The plants grow to about 50 inches (127cm) tall and spread about 30 inches (76cm); most of the pods are clustered around the base of the plant. The Valencia type is ready for harvest 95 to 100 days from planting. Most Valencia peanuts are grown in New Mexico.
Peanut plant grows in garden
Peanuts grow best in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. A sandy-loamy soil is best.

Planting Peanuts

Site. Plant peanuts in full sun. Peanuts grow best in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. A sandy-loamy soil is best. Double-dig clay soil and add gypsum and aged compost. The soil must be loose so that the pegs can penetrate and grow. Peanuts prefer a soil pH of 5.8 to 6.2.

Planting time. Peanuts require at least 120 frost-free days to reach harvest. Sow peanuts in the garden 3 to 4 weeks after the average last frost date in spring, when the soil has warmed to at least 65°F (18°C). To get a head start on the season start peanuts indoors 5 to 8 weeks before transplanting seedlings outdoors. Peanuts require nearly all of the growing days to have an air temperature greater than 85°F (29°C).

Planting and spacing. Sow peanuts in the whole shell or in the papery skin surrounding the seed. Sow seed 1½ to 3 inches (4-7cm) deep; set seed 6 to 8 inches (15-20cm) apart; thin successful plants or set transplants 18 inches (45cm) apart. Plant peanuts in double rows to save space, staggering the seeds 18 inches (45cm) apart. Single rows can be spaced 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) apart. When the plants are 12 inches (30cm) tall, mound earth up around the base of the plant so that faded flowers can set pegs down into the hill. For a head start on the season, start peanuts indoors in individual biodegradable peat or paper pots which can be set whole into the garden.

More tips at Peanut Seed Starting Tips.

Yield. Grow 10 to 12 peanut plants per household member.

Companion plants. Beets, potatoes. Do not grow peanuts in the shadow of tall plants such as corn or pole beans.

Container growing. Peanuts can be grown in containers but allow enough room for flower stems to dip into the soil to set pegs; choose a container at least 18 inches (45cm) across and at least 12 inches (30cm) deep.

Peanut plant in soil
Keep the soil moist until the plants begin to flower, then waterless.

Caring for Peanuts

Water and feeding. Peanuts prefer regular, even watering. Keep the soil moist until the plants begin to flower, then waterless. Once plants are established, allow the soil to dry between waterings. Empty pods, sometimes called “blind” pods, are the result of too much rain or humidity at flowering time. Prepare planting beds with aged compost; peanuts, like other legumes, supply their own nitrogen.

Care. Mulch around peanuts to keep the soil surface from crusting and becoming hard; this will allow pegs to penetrate the soil. Keep the planting beds weed-free and cultivate lightly to keep the soil loose. Mulching around peanuts will make harvesting easier.

Pests. Peanuts have no other serious pest problems. Fence rodents out of the garden.

Diseases. Peanuts have no serious disease problems.

Peanut harvestHarvesting and Storing Peanuts

Harvest. Peanuts will be ready for harvest when the leaves turn yellow and begin to wither, usually 120 to 150 days after planting. Lift pods with a garden fork, pulling up the whole plant. Shake away loose soil and hang the whole plant to dry for about two weeks in a warm, dry place. Seeds can be removed when the hulls are completely dry.

Storing and preserving. Raw, unshelled peanuts can be kept in a dry, dark, well-ventilated place for up to 3 months. Dried shelled peanuts can be stored in a cool, dry place for 10 to 12 months. Shelled peanuts can be sprouted, frozen, or used for peanut butter, or roasted for snacks.

Peanut Varieties to Grow

  • Runner (130-150 days): ‘Florunner’; ‘Southern Runner’.
  • Spanish (120 days): ‘Early Spanish’; ‘Pronto’; ‘Star Spanish’.
  • Virginia (130-150 days): ‘Carwile’s Virginia’; ‘Jumbo’.
  • Valencia (95-120 days); ‘Georgia Red’; ‘Tennessee Red’; ‘Valencia A’.

Common name. Peanut

Botanical name. Arachis hypogaea

Origin. South America

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65 Comments

  1. Welcome to all of the gardener reading from Lesotho. Your country in the south of Africa lies entirely above 4,500 feet. Gardening at such a high altitude can have its challenges. The first of these challenges is the length of the growing season, which is relatively short in the number of days. Without protection from chill and cold, you must select crops that will come to harvest in the number of frost free days in your garden. As for peanuts, you will need 100 to 150 frost free days depending upon the cultivar; choose a cultivar with fewer days to harvest to grow in your region. You will need full sun and very warm conditions to bring your crop to a successful harvest. You can use black plastic to prewarm your soil to get a two-week head start on the season. A light, sandy, well-drained soil will work best. Check with other gardeners in your district or a local garden cooperative or club to see if other growers have tried growing peanuts.

      • The peanut originated in South America and grows best in tropical and warm temperate regions. Peanuts will not grow and produce pods in temperatures less than 56F (and will be killed by frost); the optimal growing temperature for the peanut plant is 86F. The earliest maturing peanut type is the Spanish type which requires 90 to 120 days to reach harvest (other peanut types such as Runner and Virginia, require more days). To grow peanuts anywhere–including south-central Wisconsin–you will need 3000 Growing Degree Days; “growing degree days” is a formula agronomists use to measure a plants growth to maturity and harvest; a measure based on temperature of the total number of hours and days a plant can actually advance towards maturity and harvest; the formula changes with differing crops. Essentially to have success growing Spanish type peanuts or any type you need a minimum of 90 to 120 days at temperatures as close to 86F as possible–the optimal growing conditions for peanuts (in addition to light, well-drained soil, and plenty of irrigation). You and Mother Nature may be able to give peanuts exactly what they need to grow in south central Wisconsin, but your crop will be a long way from its tropical roots. The University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension has additional information on growing peanuts in Wisconsin and Minnesota; check with the extension for published studies and best practices in your area.

  2. My peanut bushes started to flower today. But one plant is dying. I have a drip system, so all my plants are being watered evenly. Should I pull out the dying plant or will it come back to life.

    • Peanuts suffer no serious pests or diseases, so look at watering, soil-root contact, and possible root injury to figure out why one plant may be failing–and not the others. Peanuts need only enough moisture to keep the soil from drying out–no more. A thick mulch may be all you need to keep the soil moist. The soil in your garden may have a different consistency even within a few feet. First check to see if the soil is too moist or too dry around the failing plant; is the soil more moist or drier than the neighboring plants? Adjust the watering to soil moisture retention. Have you been hilling up around the plants–peanut runners will grow laterally for a few inches then dip down and bury themselves in the soil; make sure the runners have good contact with the soil; hill up. Peanuts are shallow rooted–be sure not to injure the roots when you cultivate for weeds.

    • Asian mustards (Brassica juncea var. rugosa) are fast growing cool-season crops. Plant in soil rich in organic material and compost. Plant seeds in full sun 1/4 inch deep and 3 inches apart in early spring or fall. Thin the plants to 1 foot apart if you plan to grow to maturity (the mustard head will be 10 to 12 inches across and tall at full maturity and weigh 1 to 2 pounds, similar to a head of cabbage). If you want to grow mustard as a baby green you can broadcast the seed. Mustards need consistent water or they will become too spicy to eat.

  3. I have tomato plants that are about 10 feet tall i have about 20 of them in the ground I recently found out I have to move can these move with me? Even if I dig a big enough hole?

    • Yes, you can move mature tomato plants, but if the roots are disturbed (which is likely) you may have some die back or even lost a plant. Try to disturb as few roots as possible in the move. You can also take cuttings from your plants and replant them in your new garden. If there is enough growing season left where you live, the cuttings will likely root and in time produce fruit.

  4. I live in Ontario, Canada just an hour or so north of Toronto and my family and I had a peanut plant growing competition. I won my plant yielded 14 peanuts outside in a tire. They grew inside and didn’t get any ha ha.

  5. I am master student in Yezin Agricultural University in Myanmar. Now, I am studying about groundnut with mulching for master degree. I would like to get about mulching

  6. Good day Teboho

    I am doubting the chances of growing ground nuts in Lesotho,
    As a small boy my parents used to grow them well in South Africa Hammarsdale (near Durban very warm and sandy), but once someone tried them in Bulwer(near Underberg very close to Lesotho), and they were very badly damaged, and the hard soil prevented normal pull up harvesting method, they had to dig and some were left underground.
    I would say try something else or just try them indoors

    • Groundnuts (also called peanuts) grow best in loose soil with lots of compost and decomposed organic matter. Where the soil is heavy (with clay) they can be grown on mounds or in trenches with the loose soil hilled up around them as they grow. Depending on the size of the crop you want to grow, I would suggest that you try raised or mounded beds–4 to 6 inches above the native soil–to grow groundnuts. This will require a bit of work to begin but you will be able to use the mounded beds for peanuts but also for many other crops.

  7. Thank you very much for a well written article. I will be trying for the first time (for me) in NZ. Hopefully will enjoy organically grown peanuts.
    Q. What type of mulch you recommend?
    Thanks again

    • Mulch around peanut plants with straw or grass clippings–a loose, penetrable mulch. If you are hilling up around peanut plants make sure your soil is rich in aged compost–which is also loose and penetrable. Loose, penetrable soil and mulch is important because after a peanut plant flowers the flower petal fall off as the peanut ovary begins to form. This ovary is called a “peg.” The peg enlarges and grows down and away from the plant forming a small stem which extends to the soil. At the tip of this stem (or peg) an embryo forms; the penetrates the soil. The embryo then turns horizontal to the soil surface and begins to mature taking the form of a peanut. A peanut plant will commonly produce about 40 or more pods. From planting to harvesting, the growing cycle of a peanut takes 4 to 5 months, depending on the type and variety.

    • Gypsum is an organic fertilizer derived from minerals. It slowly supplies calcium to the soil and its sufur content lowers soil pH–and gypsum helps loosen compacted soil. Add gypsum to the planting beds a few months in advance of planting peanuts or other crops. It will not have an immediate effect if used on a crop already in the ground.

    • You can grow peanuts in Colorado with some effort. Peanuts are a tropical plant and you live in a colder temperate climate–Zones 4 and 5 (tropical is Zone 10-12). You will have to start your plants indoors and then transplant them outdoors when the soil has warmed to 65F or more. Grow peanuts in a loose, sandy soil during the warmest time of the years. Use row covers or frost blankets to protect the plants from night temperatures below 65F until they mature.

  8. Maybe I’m planting too shallow (VA peanuts). The seed itself comes up from the soil. Is this supposed to occur? Should I bury that seed with careful additions of potting soil?

    I’m using peanuts from last year’s crop (about 100 peanuts from 6 plants) here in Northern VT. Hoping to adapt seed over the years to this climate.

  9. I live in Southwest Virginia near the Tennessee border. I would love to be able to grow peanuts for my family’s consumption, as well as to sell. I have 2 questions, will the climate here allow it, and if so, what variety of peanut is best for boiling?

    • To grow peanuts you will need 130 to 140 frost-free days from the time they are sown until harvest time. If your growing season is too short you can start the plants indoors and then transplant them into the garden after the last frost. Peanuts require relatively sandy soil, although Tennessee Red Valencia peanut can grow in clay soil. Add lots of organic matter to your garden and grow the plants on hill or in raised beds. There are four main types of peanuts: (1) Virginia peanuts have large seeds and are usually roasted in the shell; (2) Runner peanuts are usually uniform size and are commonly used for making peanut butter; (3) Spanish peanuts have the smallest seeds and highest oil content and are good for snacks; (4) Valencia peanuts are sweet and have a bright red skin. Runner peanuts may be your best choice for boiling as they are of uniform size and should cook uniformly.

  10. Hello,

    I am going to try to grow Peanuts in Lower Michigan this year. If i am going to transplant them outside to the garden around the end of May, when should i start to grow them indoors? I’ve read anywhere from 5-8 weeks, but i was wondering if it is better to shoot for the 5 week or the 8 week target. Any help is apreciated!

    • Peanuts require from 100 to 140 days to reach harvest–about 100 for boiling peanuts and 140 for dry peanuts. The soil/planting bed growing temperature should be 70F to 85F. Time the start indoors so that the plants go into the garden when the soil is 70F or greater–you can hasten this outdoor start time by pre-warming the soil with black plastic. As well, you want to time your transplanting so that there are 140 warm growing days before harvest. So estimate when you can transplant into the garden, then start 6 weeks before then–if the weather does not cooperate you can set your plants out at 8 weeks. At transplant time, be careful not to disturb developing roots.

    • If the rabbits ate a significant number of leaves, the plant will likely be set back and the harvest will be delayed. Add a week or two to the number of days to the expected harvest.

  11. Amazed at the way my first try of planting a peanut went and flourished so well with so many peanuts, even huge individual ones on any tiny stem I pulled up from the dirt in my raised boxed garden it was grown it. Just sure hope they will be tasty after I have let the plant hang to dry. Am wondering how is it best to get that salty good old taste of salted peanuts one can buy in a store, already processed persay? :0) thanks!!!

    • Commercial peanut growers salt shelled peanuts by soaking them in brine. The brine is then drained and the peanuts go in a dryer where the brine water is evaporated leaving behind a light coating of sodium chloride or salt–this process usually soaks through to the nuts in the shell. At home you can toss cleaned unshelled peanuts with peanut oil and salt until they are well coated. Then set them on a baking pan spread well apart and roast them for 30 to 35 minutes; rotate the baking pan midway.

    • Peanuts grow best in loose, sandy soil. They can tolerate alkaline soil. Try growing peanuts and let us know how they do in Las Vegas.

  12. Help! Growing peanuts for the first time and I live in Fort Worth area of Texas. They’re in containers and have done better than I expected and containers wound up being too small. Unfortunately for some of my plants, are temperatures tonight are going to get down to high 30 degrees with chances of frost. My peanut plants are still nice and green and putting out a few flowers. Will low temps finish off the plants and I should pull them before the cold or just leave them? Temps here will go back up to the 80’s in a day or two. Thanks!

    • Frost can burn or kill peanut foliage. Place a frame over the plants and cover the frame with clear plastic sheeting. This will protect the plants from frost. The temperature under the plastic protection can be as much as 20 degrees warmer than the outside air temperature so pull the plastic back when the days warm to prevent the plants from getting too hot.

    • Runner and Spanish peanuts are most commonly used to make peanut butter. Runner peanuts are also used as beer nuts. If you want to know which peanut types grow successfully in your area check with the nearby Cooperative Extension Service or Master Gardener group.

    • 30 tan mean 300 quintal ,but you need every month it mean 300 quintal *12 months = 3600 quintal in years,
      if you want do it risk free, so it is growing in one sesion in a year ok, if in it hard work or good care with manegment or right time at right fertilizer use, so it is yilding of 42 quintal to 45 quintal per hectare,
      now come with your demands so you need at least 85 hectare lands,
      remember it is invest money minimum 150000 USD approximately for cultivation or seed fertilizer, machinery, water or irrigation cost will addition extra,because I not know what is facility or electronic bill charge in your country or boaring pumps deep much more,

  13. We have feeders out for birds with peanuts in them. We also have planted some peanut seeds at least 60 yards away from our lawn. We now have peanut plants growing in our lawn. Could the birds drop peanuts and the peanut is able to seed itself in our grass?

    • The simple answer is Yes. Birds are responsible for a lot of vegetables growing where they weren’t seeded; the peanut plants the birds helped sow are known as “volunteers”.

  14. I live in North Carolina with my service dog, Maximilian. Everyday we fill a small bucket w/peanuts and everyday some squirrel, or squirrels, empty it. I have a small garden where the basket hangs and now I have peanut plants that I didn’t plants growing in various spots. It’s nice to have extra help and if I had more land maybe I could become as rich as Jimmy Carter. I purchase the nuts at our local Farmers’ Market. Because they are able to sprout I assume they have not been roasted. The plants grow rapidly and are great for filling out a bare space. The peanuts bring the squirrels, my Max likes to chase them providing him w/additional exercise and I get thriving peanut plants. Sounds good to me!

    • Yes, the squirrels have spread the peanuts for you–the new plants are called “volunteers”. Sound like you and Maximilian are starting a peanut farm! Go Maximilian!!

  15. I am sutjar samir Kumar from india, we are regular growing peanut /groundnuts crop here sucesessfully like 3 hectare every year, if you want looking my farm you can video call me +919016929155whatsapp in this season,
    if you are going to cultivation this crop, its is not simply as you are reading at internet, this is required lots of fertilizer at the right time or machinery iqupment,
    if you are holding large land in any country or want cultivation you can contact me, I will aggrange all thinks or risk free business. I hope you are happy, thanks

  16. Thanks for this article. I’m in Texas and accidentally grew peanuts. In fact, a squirrel would take raw peanuts from my neighbor’s food box and plant them in my garden without realizing that they would sprout.

    This is a new experience for me, so I’m a little wary on whether any of the peanuts I”m growing are safe to eat. 1 is in a grow bag, 1 is in a ceramic pot, 2 are in a long and shallow ceramic planter (very crowded), and one in a shallow pot that also had gladiolas in the same pot (the gladiolas eventually died and dried out, so I removed them, but left the peanut plant without realizing it would actually give me peanuts!).

    My main question – the peanuts that shared the same soil as the gladiolas, are they safe to eat? Or would the toxicity from the gladiolas seep into the peanuts?

    Also, I noticed a peanut on the surface of the soil turning green from sun exposure. Would that be safe to eat? Or is it like potatoes where they can become toxic?

    Thanks for your help!

  17. Hi Steve. I became fan of your site. I am working and living in Kuwait for the time being and I am trying so hard to start and learn gardening. I am sure peanut will work here. I seeded indoor. Temp is around 9-20 degree C. But there is no soil here. ONLY sand. I am following your instructions and am quite sure to have good results. I find at least 7-8 different websites or youtube videos’ information all in one aricle of yours. My main question is: every seeding is timed as “first frost or last frost”. The problem is there is no frost here. But summer can reach 50 degree C.So I can not adjust planting dates. What would my calendar be like?.

    • The optimal soil temperature for growing peanuts is 70 to 80F (21-26C). It is likely you will want to grow peanuts in the cooler time of the year, perhaps in winter or spring, or fall. Time your planting so that the peanuts are maturing and come to harvest when the soil temperature is optimal. Check with a local agriculture agency or library for the range of soil temperature throughout the year. In the United States, Zone 10 and 11 growers–southern growers–grow crops in what is called the reverse season–in winter instead of summer.

  18. Writing from Colorado Springs, CO, USA at 5,969 feet above sea level, growing zone 5b. I’m late in the season to even attempt, but for next year, I’m wondering what other methods I can implement to help peanuts grow here. I’m practicing Back to Eden methodology. I excavated one foot of the Colorado clay from my front yard, and backfilled with wood chips. With a clean slate, I make a hole in the mulch where I plan to grow, then fill with garden soil; and further amend with worm castings and partially aged compost (with 4 different earthworms species) from my compost bin. I fully plan to sow indoors for 8-10 weeks before Mother’s Day, which is roundabout when our last frost date is. I also utilize captured rain water from rain barrels when I can, and am in the process of reconfiguring my drip system when I have to use chlorinated city water.

    In addition to warming the ground with black tarp, what else am I missing that I can do to help give peanuts the best chance of surviving; not just for the growing season, but helping it also come back as a perennial?

    Additionally, as the sun is so brutally strong at elevations so high, and air is so dry, would the use of shade cloth be recommended? Many thanks for your sage advice!

    • Shade cloth placed directly above the plant will shield the plant from mid-day burning sun; the plant will still get sun in the morning and afternoon. In Zone 5b, it will be difficult to grow peanuts as a perennial without growing in a winter-heated greenhouse. You can try protecting the plants from cold using a plastic tunnel; this will allow you to start earlier and grow later into the season. See this link: https://harvesttotable.com/plastic_tunnels_for_growing_ve/

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