Fresh Market “Green” Peanuts
Have you ever eaten boiled peanuts? Boiled peanuts are a staple of the Deep South and many living in the northern regions have never tried them. Also known as “green” peanuts, fresh market peanuts are different than the those that are dried, shelled and processed into roasted nuts, peanut butter, candy, or other products. Once you have tried them, you may not want them any other way. Homeowners grow a few plants in the garden for family use and small farmers grow, harvest, and market a crop in their local area. Large commercial produces provide peanuts to supermarkets, roadside stands, and food processers to can after the peanuts are boiled. Fresh market “green” peanuts are preferred by consumers because it takes less time to cook in saltwater solution or in a pressure cooker than dry peanuts. However, dry or frozen peanuts are an alternative when fresh green peanuts are not available for boiling.
Florida is a major producer of fresh market peanuts because of its long growing season. Most of the acreage is in central and north Florida, but they are also planted for early spring harvest in warm areas of southern counties. Producing fresh market requires planning and facilities that do not apply to production for the dry markets. There is a lot more risk in growing fresh boiling peanuts since there is no commercial market and they have to be moved into the marketplace rapidly to ensure high quality.
Many of the production practices used for dry peanuts are identical to those used for fresh market peanuts. The major difference is harvest and post-harvesting. Market windows are shorter and much more important for green peanuts.
While any peanut variety can be used for the fresh market, the Valencia and Virginia market types are favored by most consumers.
- desirable flavor and three to four seed per pod
- seed coat is red
- mature early and at easier to hand harvest
- Varieties include: New Mexico Valencia A, New Mexico Valencia C, McRan, Georgia Red and Georgia Valencia.
- desirable flavor and produce large seed pods
- have large kernels and those that mature early are generally preferred
- Extra large varieties often have unfilled pods
- Varieties include: NC7, Gregory, Bailey and Champs
Traditionally, these varieties are not as available as the seed of runner varieties. Therefore potential growers should locate sources of the desired varieties well before the expected planning date as well as having contracts for the harvested crop.
Price for fresh market tend to be higher in the early season when supplies are limited. Frost or freeze damage is a danger, but even extended periods of cool weather will slow seed germination and growth of plants. A general recommendation is to plant seeds only after the danger of frost has passed. Seeds may be planted in mid to late summer in an effort to extend the marketing season for fresh peanut and should be planted early enough to ensure maturity before the first frost of fall.
- Use high-quality seed that has been tested and proven
- Must have proper seed storage
- Use care in handling seed, do not drop or throw bags
- Take precautions and do not damage seed when planting
- Rotation with a crop that is resistant to common pests-grass crops are usually excellent
- Do not grow on same soil more than once every three year
- Single rows-place seeds 2 inches apart
- Twin rows-place seeds 4 inches apart
- Planting depths are usually 1 1/2 – 3 inches
Follow fertilization based on results of a soil test. Soil tests can be done through your local UF/IFAS Extension Office. Ask your local Agricultural Agent for advice on fertilization.
Practices used to prevent nematode, weed, disease, and insect losses in crops grown for dry market should apply to fresh market peanuts. It is also important to prevent pod damage or blemishes due to soil pests and diseases. Make sure to pay attention to pesticide label instructions of some pesticides because green peanuts are harvested earlier than dray market.
Peanuts bloom and peg over a long period of time (60-100 days) and all pods do not mature at the same time. Fresh market are harvested at an earlier stage. The consumer demand influences the time of harvest.
Harvesting requires extensive planning and preparation. Hand picking can begin immediately after digging. After picking, the harvest should be moved as soon as possible to the packing shed.
For more information on growing, harvesting, fertilization and pesticide, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agricultural Agent.
Chris Vann- Extension Agent- Agriculture/4-H