Peanuts are popular as a healthy snack, and are fun to eat at games, home, school, work and just about anywhere else you can think of. But whats more fun is being able to grow and eat your own peanuts from planting to harvesting and it’s not as hard as you may think. In fact, even raw store bought peanuts can be sprouted and grown to produce a home grown crop of peanuts. Here is what you absolutely need to know to grow peanuts in Florida.
Runner and Spanish peanuts are the best varieties to plant in Central and North Florida between the months of March through May. For fastest germination, use raw peanuts from the shell and plant them 2 to 4 inches (5cm – 10cm) deep and 4 to 6 inches (10cm – 15cm) apart in rows that are spaced from 24 inches to 36 inches (60cm – 90cm) apart.
There are thousands of varieties of peanuts, but the four most common in Florida are the runner, Spanish, Virginia and Valencia.
Runner peanut types produce good yields and flavor and suitable for both the home grower and commercial grower. Try the Sunrunner and Florunner variety of runner peanuts and expect 4 months for them to mature.
Spanish type peanuts are smaller but have a high oil content. They are mainly grown for peanut butter and salted peanuts with their distinctive red-brown skins. The star variety is a favourite Spanish type which takes only 4 months to mature.
Valencia type peanuts are harvested early while the peanuts are still green. They are boiled without drying. Valencia type peanuts also have a sweet flavor and is also used for peanut butter that is all natural with no needed sweetners.
Virginia peanut types are large and well suited for roasting with Florigiant being a popular variety.
Do Peanuts Grow Well in Florida?
Peanuts grow amazingly well in Florida. Most of Florida’s peanuts are grown in the panhandle, north Florida and southward to just below Marion County and even all the way down to the southern tip of Florida. But because they are also easy to grow in containers, you can grow peanuts anywhere in Florida.
The most peanuts grown in Florida are in Jackson, Suwannee and Marion with large amounts also grown in Levy, Madison and Columbia.
Check out the table below for the 10 top peanut producing counties in the Sate of Florida according to the Nineteenth Census of Crops by the State Department of Agriculture.
|County||Acres of Peanuts Grown|
Peanuts like well draining soil, so they thrive on the sandy soils of Florida. You might be interested to know that peanuts are actually botanically a fruit legume. Find out why in this article: Are Peanuts a Fruit
Should You Plant Peanuts Shelled Or Unshelled?
A common question that arises is: ‘Should you shell the peanuts before planting?’
Runner type peanuts should be shelled before planting as it speeds up germination. Spanish style peanuts are smaller and harder to remove from the shells without damaging them, so they should be planted with their shells left on.
To expand on that answer, with the larger Runner type peanuts it is advisable to shell them, as these peanuts are easily removed from their shells without damaging the seeds. Germination is also quicker with shelled peanuts over unshelled peanuts.
However, with Spanish type peanuts it is better to leave them in the shells before planting them. They are smaller and fill up most of the pod making it difficult to remove them by hand. It is easy to damage the seed while trying to remove them for the shells. Germination will be a little slower if left in the shell, but only by a few days. You can soak the peanuts, with the shell on, in water overnight to soften them and improve germination times.
Check out the video below for easy advice and steps to planting and growing peanuts in Florida.
When Should Peanuts Be Planted In Florida?
Peanuts can be planted anytime from early Spring to mid Summer or March through to May in Florida. The earlier the planting the better the yield, however having the right climate is just as important for yield as is the timing of the planting.
Soil temperatures need to be between 65 and 70 degrees when planting peanuts. Peanuts need 4 to 5 months of frost free weather to mature, making South Florida ideal for growing these tasty treats. However, they can be grown in North Florida, as long as you make sure you protect them from any frost. Another easy way to grow them in colder climates is to use containers and keep them indoors or on a sheltered patio.
Preparing The Soil For Best Peanut Growth – Inoculants
You want the best growth and crop from your peanut plants, so what should you do?
Peanuts make their own nitrogen for proper growth by the presence of bacteria (rhizobia bacterium). If these bacteria are not present in the soil then peanut plants cannot produce enough nitrogen and the result is inhibited plant growth.
It is advisable to supply these bacteria to your soil before planting peanuts, which is easily done by purchasing a special inoculants for peanuts. You must use a peanut inoculate as other inoculants such as a soybean inoculant will not work.
Peanut Inoculants can be purchased online or at any reputable seed seller or nursery. Usually Inoculants are applied below the seed as a liquid formulation.
You know if your innoculant is working when the roots of the peanut plant have nodules forming on them. These nodules should form 35 to 45 days after planting. Adequate nodule formation is 12 to 25 nodules per root system. You may need to carefully check the root system of a few plants to see if this is the case.
How To Grow Peanuts in South Florida
Peanuts should be planted between the months of March to May in South Florida. The best variety of peanuts to plant are the Runner and Spanish types, requiring 4 to 5 months of frost free weather. The soil should be prepared with an inoculant and then peanut seeds planted 2 to 4 inches deep with a gap of 4 to 6 inches.
To hasten germination soak the seeds either shelled or unshelled in water overnight before planting.
Water your peanuts at least once or twice a week with a deep watering. Make sure to loosen the soil around the plant when flowers appear, to make it easier for the ‘pegs’ that grow downward from the flower to penetrate the soil.
Pull up your plants, when they are ready to harvest, like you would a potato plant and leave to dry for a couple of weeks. Wash your peanut shells, break them open and enjoy healthy, raw fresh peanuts, or if you prefer, roast or boil them.
Do Peanuts Grow Back Every Year?
This is an interesting question that I also wanted to know as I set out to plant my peanut seeds. If you are like me, i didn’t want to have to keep planting seeds every year, when i could already have an established plant ready to go. So, its important to know if peanuts will grow back every year?
Peanut plants are killed by winter frost, however if the cold isn’t too severe, such as in South Florida, they regrow from rhizomes the following spring.
Peanut plants will grow back every year if they are not killed by frost and the plant is left in the ground. The peanuts that are left on the plant should germinate under the ground to produce new plants and peanuts every year.
Can You Grow Peanuts in Containers?
Peanuts can be grown in containers at least 500cm (0.5 meters) deep with a consistant soil temperature of 21 to 27 degrees Celcius. They thrive in the full sun with good humidity and moist well-draining soil. This makes them an ideal plant to grow in containers in colder areas as they can be kept inside during frosty periods.
The best peanuts to grow in Florida are the runner and spanish types. Its best to use raw peanuts straight from the shell and soaked overnight to improve germination. Peanut plants will require from 120 to 150 days (4 yo 5 months) to mature, depending on the type of peanut grown.
So, there is no excuse not to grow peanuts in Florida, now that you know how. Maybe you are from Arizona and have wondered if peanuts can be grown in this State. To find out please read the article: Growing Peanuts in Arizona
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