If only the midnight peanut butter sandwich snack could explain the emotional attachment it shares with the owner!
Then we would all vote peanut for life!
I am convinced that you agree with me about the close sentiments we have with this snack during the midnight hour. Yes? Ooh! Thank you for acknowledging this unspoken love relationship.
Now let’s get to know more about peanuts that we all swear by, as the ultimate midnight snack.
There are various types of peanuts but the most common in Kenya include;
• Red Oriata
• Red Valencia
• Texas Peanut
• Homa Bay
• Makulu Red
• Manipinta and Atika.
Geographical Zones and Climatic Conditions
Peanuts grow well in areas with an average sea level of 1500. These are regions conditioned to experience tropical climate becoming the most appropriate farming grounds.
Groundnuts can adapt to drought as well, making them a good cash crop for people living in semi-arid and arid regions. However, peanuts require an adequate amount of rainfall ranging from 500 -600 mm.
These requirements make peanut farming a critical affair to farmers outside the tropical climatic regions.
Let’s appreciate the level of technological advancement and innovation which has changed farming as we know it in the present day.
Land Preparation and Plant Husbandry
Nuts grow well in loamy to sandy soils. This allows for good pod formation and firming.
Land preparation just like any other farming venture influences the outcome.
Peanuts require a good amount of calcium and phosphate for growth and yield production. Therefore, prepare your soil well by incorporating enough of these fertilizers.
Seed treatment or dressing is important because it reduces the risk of both bacterial and fungal infections when growing. Start the weeding process 2-3 weeks after plants germinate, to avoid soil nutrient competition.
Hand weeding is the best option for your crops because it causes minimal disturbance to the plants, importantly the flowers. Peg your plants early enough to prevent flowers from falling.
Remember nuts are altogether delicate and resistant to climatic conditions and husbandry practices. Never be in a hurry to handle your plants otherwise you will have yourself to blame when you don’t get the desired yields.
Planting and Seed dressing
The land is prepared and you are ready to start the planting process.
Treat your seeds using fungicides to reduce seedling blights. Buy your seeds from the right agricultural companies such as Kenya seed shops for top-quality seeds.
For each variety of nuts, you decide to grow there are specific planting guidelines to follow:
Homa Bay nuts (Runner) are larger, mature in 90 -100 days, and require a spacing of 60 cm between rows and 10 -15 cm between plants.
Red Valencia (Bunch) are smaller in size, tastier, highly marketable, and mature in 60 -75 days. These require a spacing of 30 – 45 cm between rows and 7- 10 cm between plants.
Pests and Disease Control Measures
One point to note is that nuts are prone to a wide variety of pests and diseases. Therefore don’t become oblivious of pests and diseases when practicing peanut farming.
Here are common pests to look out for when growing nuts;
• Soil inhabiting insects – Termites and earwigs
• Insects affecting foliage – Caterpillars, armyworms
• Insects affecting flowers and other parts of the plant – termites, aphids and thrips and leaf miners
• Thrips and Aphids are insects known for transmitting viral diseases.
It can be tough and tedious when you have to weed, control pests and diseases without having a break. Don’t let the vulnerability levels to pests and diseases scare you from venturing into peanut farming. No.
You have a wider range of preventive measures at your disposal to manage the same.
• Nuts adapt well to crop rotation.
• Practice good farm hygiene.
• Use certified seeds for planting.
• Ensure seed dressing is done before planting and at the right measurements.
Harvesting and Storage of Peanuts
Peanuts will continue to flower even at the harvesting stage. Therefore, determine harvest time depending on the plant’s maturity timelines. Harvesting is a key process in farming, so remember to use the most appropriate method for your type of crop farming.
Hoeing as a harvesting option is suitable during drought season. Be careful when harvesting to avoid pod deformation which can cause Aflatoxin contamination.
Measuring moisture content when harvesting cereals produce is a good practice. But a critical one for peanut farmers. Always measure moisture content during harvesting and storage period to reduce contamination.
Nuts grow in pods and your best mode of shelling depends on quantity and land size. However, the mode you choose for shelling should preserve your product quality.
How to Market your Peanuts
Peanuts are high-yielding crops with a good financial gain if well undertaken.
As a peanut farmer, you have the privilege to sell your products either as shelled, unshelled, roasted, or raw. This gives you an added advantage as a farmer and opens a wide range of marketing opportunities.
Make sure your product is of high quality to guarantee the highest prices in the market. Beware of pod contamination caused by moisture level content which leads to aflatoxin.
Mukami a Kenyan peanut farmer, swears by the crop and enjoys the financial gains that come with growing peanuts.
Referencing Jane’s earnings having produced 35 – 45 bags of groundnuts on an acre of land. Here are the approximate earnings from one season of peanut farming:
100kg bag retailing at Ksh: 12,000 means that Jane’s earnings range from (35 bags x 12,000) 420,000.
After investing Ksh; 100,000.00 into peanut farming. The profit margins gained within one season of harvesting are unimaginable.
Whether you are a beginner or veteran in farming, growing peanuts is a profitable venture to embark on and to substitute from the normal maize and bean with low yields.
The only way to determine this is by taking that step to grow peanuts and experience the joys of being a peanut farmer.