Peanuts are legumes which grow beneath the surface of the soil. The peanut itself is a nodule on the root of the peanut plant. Each peanut shell is oblong-shaped and contains two peanut seeds. In the United States, peanut plants are put into the ground in the late spring and harvested in the fall.
The first step to growing peanuts is placing the seeds in the soil. Peanuts grow best in sandy loam soil, and are typically planted as soon as the last frost passes. Seedlings typically emerge about 10 days after planting, and yellow flowers appear on the plants about 40 days after planting. For proper development of the peanuts, the plants must be provided with about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water per week. When the peanuts are ready to harvest, farmers use diggers to pull the plants up and expose the roots, which hold the peanuts. The peanuts are left to dry for several days, after which the seeds are separated from the rest of the plants to continue drying before being cleaned and sold.
Peanuts are hardy plants, and can grow anywhere that offers adequate rainfall and a 4- to 5-month growing season. As of 2009, China was the number-one producer of peanuts in the world, with India coming in second. The United States was the third-largest producer of peanuts.