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How Peanuts Grow

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Peanuts start off growing like many other plants. Farmers plant seeds, individual peanuts, when the risk of frost is over. The plants emerge, grow about eighteen inches high and those with runner types vines eventual cover the entire field. The yellow flowers that bloom are self-pollinating.

Now the fascinating part starts -- the petals fall off and the ovary at the tip of the stalk turns into what’s called a peg – growing down towards and into the soil. It then grows horizontally as a stem on which develop into nuts we call shells which are filled with the peanuts. Each plant can produce about forty shells containing different numbers of peanuts depending on the variety and growing conditions. From an environmental standpoint, peanuts are a beneficial crop as they fix nitrogen and use relatively small amounts of water. 

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.