Everybody knows the taste of fragrant, slightly sweetish ground nuts, which are added to cakes and chocolate, make snacks and famous, especially in the USA, peanut butter. But as peanuts grow, they know not all.
Today, peanuts are the most valuable agricultural crop, and the lion’s share of the crop rotation of many countries in Asia and Africa is compiled. Incredibly important place in the economy and consumption of peanuts in the United States. But if in countries where peanuts grow, everyone knows about this culture, in Russia and European countries “peanut” is known only as a product. And as a representative of the plant world, he raises a lot of questions.
In particular, there is a perception that peanuts, akin to hazelnut or walnuts, ripen on shrubs or even trees. The reason for the common misconception is the familiar name “peanut”, which appeared in the 16th – 17th centuries. In fact, peanuts are closer to ordinary peas, lentils or beans.
Walnut or bean: how does a peanut look and grow?
A grassy plant, 20 to 70 cm tall, cannot be called a shrub or fruit tree. And the fruits of peanuts belonging to legumes are not nuts, but seeds hidden inside a pod-bean.
A plant that has been cultivated for many centuries by the local population of South America, during the development of the continent by Europeans, was noticed and immediately evaluated as a promising agricultural crop. Today, millions of hectares of land are planted around the world, and the cultivation zone is expanding steadily.
Why peanut peanut enjoys such attention? The reason lies in the nutritional value and composition of the peanut, its simplicity and quick return of the crop.
Culture grows without any problems where other plants suffer from lack of nutrition and moisture, are not afraid of the sun, and can even do without pollinators. In addition, like other annual leguminous plants, peanuts can not only feed their soil, but also enrich it with nitrogen.
Strongly branching herbaceous shrubs or lodging plants have a strong taproot growing to a half meter length. Stems with well-marked edges are covered with parotid leaves, divided into several oval, slightly pointed leaves. Both shoots and leaf plates are covered with a soft nap. Flowers with the sailing petal bent back and a thin lip are colored yellow.
While the plant is not flowering, it is difficult to notice its main feature - the emergence and development of the fetus does not occur above the soil level, but below its surface.
Ripening beans in autumn have a durable, shell-like shell that hides from one to seven oval seeds. This was the reason for the appearance of the famous peanut name “peanut”.
Crop Grows Peanuts are one of the few plants on Earth that use self-pollinated klestogamy flowers for propagation. After diurnal flowering and formation of the ovary, the process-gynofor rushes to the soil and, digging into it, ensures the underground development of the bean.
On a single plant from June until late autumn several dozen pods are formed. You can find them only by undermining a bush, and you can see how the peanuts grow from above, only by the ever-increasing number of shoots leaving the ground.
Where is peanut growing?
Peanut loves warmth, and it needs a long dry summer and the same autumn to ripen the beans hidden under the soil.120–160 days go from planting beans to harvesting. Such conditions are far from everywhere.
The original habitat, culture is considered to be South America. When the mainland was discovered by Europeans, many interesting plants were sent to the metropolis and other Spanish, Portuguese and British colonies. The Spaniards first tried unusual beans, found them tasty and very useful in long voyages. In the Old World, peanuts, too, came to taste. As an exotic additive to dishes and the like of cocoa beans, it began to be used in cooking.
seed To meet growing demand, the conquerors of the American continent had few rare and unstable supplies of beans from new lands. Therefore, the Portuguese, who evaluated the nutritional properties and productivity of peanuts, were interested in how peanuts grow in African conditions.
Peanuts in Africa
European colonies on the black continent supplied wood, spices, minerals, cotton, and slaves to the metropolis. However, due to poor land, it was very difficult to develop agriculture here. Peanuts helped solve this important problem.
He not only gave the beans he wanted for Europeans, but also fed the local population as well as livestock. In some countries, culture has become the main source of income.
Although a lot of time has passed since the time of the conquest of America and the appearance of groundnuts on the territory of Africa, it still doesn’t surprise anyone why Senegal has been called a peanut republic. Since the 17th century, the Portuguese were here first, and then French landowners actively plowed up free land for peanuts. In the last century, growing more than a million tons of beans per year, the country became the world's largest supplier of peanuts.
Peanut in Asia
Thanks to the richest composition of peanuts and the presence in it of valuable vegetable oil used as food for technical purposes, the culture has been recognized in other parts of the world.
Huge plantations of this type of legumes are broken up in Asia. Since the XVI century, the plant is known in India, a little later, crops appeared in the Philippines, Macau and China. It was the Celestial Empire that took the palm from Senegal, where the vast majority of the country's inhabitants are still working on, planting and harvesting.
American Peanut Success Story
From the 19th century, peanut or peanut plantations appeared on the North American continent. Experienced difficulties with food troops of the opposing sides during the Civil War, thanks to the peanuts could support forces.
But when the war ended, this legume culture was considered unprofitable because of manual cultivation, and the beans themselves were classified as food for the poor.
Only the happy course of circumstances allowed the peanuts in the US to return to their honored pedestal. Cotton, which was occupied by the majority of farmers at the turn of the century, sucked all the juices out of the ground. The number of arable land declined, farmers were pursued by crop failures and attacks of pests. There was an urgent need to take active measures to switch to other cultures and support agriculture.
A well-known scientist in the USA, D.V. Carver, having studied how much protein, oils, amino acids, and other compounds useful for the human body in peanuts, caught fire with the idea of popularizing this interesting culture. According to the agrochemist, it was impossible to abandon the plant, the beans of which are 50% oil and a third of the valuable easily digestible protein. Therefore, thanks to the development of hundreds of food and technical products based on beans, the automation of cultivation and the sparing influence on the soil, peanuts from the USA have become a cult plant.
The lion's share of the local bean crop is used to make peanut butter, technical and edible oil, loved by Americans, as well as to feed livestock, make soap, and other needs.
Where is peanut growing in Russia?
Today, interest in the plant continues unabated. During Soviet times, peanuts were not paid attention, and the experience of growing them was undertaken only in the southern republics. Where does peanuts grow in Russia? There are no large plantations of this type of legumes in the country, but enthusiasts of the southern regions, the Black Soil Region, the Southern Urals, and even the middle belt make successful attempts to harvest the beans in their country and household plots.
Even those who, due to climatic conditions, cannot pamper themselves with peanuts from the garden, you should not refuse this culture. Original peanut bushes are easy to grow in a pot.
And to learn more about the agrotechnology of the crop, how its peanuts grow, to understand its characteristics and needs: