Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Sally, Linus, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Woodstock, and Schroeder. I grew up as a child in the Midwest with these “Peanuts.” Cedar Point was, and still is, one of my favorite places to visit because of the Peanuts. Growing up in Ohio and having a brother who was allergic to the food peanuts, my association with the word “peanuts” was not what it is now.
Although, about two and half years ago, I met someone who grew peanuts on their farm. A year later, I had my first experience with growing peanuts for production sitting buddy-seat in the tractor with my boyfriend, Chandler.
In honor of the last day of National Peanut Month, I wanted share my story of how my view of “peanuts” has shifted. Now, I have two very different, but special meanings of the word “peanuts.”
I have always been a lover of peanut butter. Yes, I am that person who gets a spoon and eats it straight out of the jar! I never gave it much thought, though, of how that peanut butter came to be. I was surprised at how similar growing peanuts was to the corn and soybeans I grew up with in Ohio. Other than different machines, the process is very much the same.
Peanuts grow in the ground, unlike corn and soybeans. Planting season is springtime and starts around April. After the peanuts are planted, they begin to grow and the green leaves begin to poke out of the ground. The peanuts are planted in rows so it is easier to harvest in the fall. Rows also prevent the tractor from running over plants when the peanuts are sprayed throughout the growing season to protect the peanuts from insects and other pests that might affect their quality.
The peanuts are cared for throughout the summer by monitoring their growing progress as well as protecting them from insects and pests, as mention before. During the summer, the leaves grow longer, broader and thicker that looks like a “green blanket” covering the field. It reminds me a lot of soybean fields in the summer, except the plants aren’t quite as tall since the peanuts are continuing to grow in the ground. In the picture to the left, the peanuts are grown, but not fully developed. You can see how many peanuts are growing off one plant system.
Come September, the peanuts are about ready to be harvested. This is my favorite time of the season because it is almost time to eat them! Before the peanuts are picked, they have to be dug out of the ground. The digger has blades that turns the peanuts up out of the ground in a way to reduce the number of peanuts lost during digging. After they are dug, they have to dry for a couple of days to order to be picked. Chandler’s mom and sister always told me there is nothing quite like the smell of fresh dug peanuts. I guess I did not know peanuts had a smell prior to experiencing peanut harvest, but I cannot describe it well enough to serve it justice. So, I’ll let you experience the smell of fresh dug peanuts on your own sometime; it definitely is a sensory experience you just have to experience yourself!
Once the peanuts are dry, they run the tractor back down the rows to pick up the freshly dried peanuts. Typically, you want to be able to get 5,000 pounds of peanuts off one acre. That’s A LOT of peanuts! The peanuts are collected into a bin on the picker and once the bin is full, it is emptied into wagons to be taken to the processing point. At the processing point, the peanuts are then graded based on quality (whole vs. split peanuts) and color to determine what the peanuts will be used for.
My favorite way to eat peanuts, besides peanut butter, is roasting them. It’s a southern thing to eat them boiled, but boiled peanuts just aren’t my thing. I can say “yes,” I have tried boiled peanuts. Another reason I love peanuts is I have found it to be a great snack for managing my diabetes and controlling my blood sugar.
While the Peanuts and the Charlie Brown gang will always hold a special place in heart, I have gained a new appreciation and love for peanuts the past growing season. Be sure to check out the Georgia Peanut Commission for more information and recipes too.
I hope you were able to learn more about the peanut industry, and enjoyed this Photo Friday. Now, go eat some peanuts!
Have a blessed weekend,