Anthony Jean-Claude is currently President of MDGB LLC–Maryland Green BioFuel. Mr. Jean-Claude enjoys environmental and agricultural research on many topics, including peanut farming.
Peanuts have been a staple of the American diet for over a century, thanks in part to horticultural developments by famed researcher, George Washington Carver. Today, commercial peanut farms exist in 15 U.S. states with many other amateur gardeners cultivating the popular nut. In fact, peanuts contribute over one billion dollars to the U.S. economy each year, with U.S. citizens consuming over 600 million pounds of peanuts and 700 billion pounds of peanut butter annually.
Typically, commercial farmers plant peanuts in April or May, when soil temperatures reach 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The two-phase harvesting process begins approximately 120 to 160 days after planting. First, digging occurs when approximately 70% of the crop has reached maturity. Special digging machines extract plants from the ground, shake off loose dirt from peanuts, and invert plants upside down to cure (or dry) peanuts for a few days. During the combing phase of harvest, a combine separates peanuts from vines and places the peanuts in wagons for further curing.
After harvest, peanuts are assessed for quality and graded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Then, if needed, shelling removes the exterior shells from peanut kernels to prepare peanuts for final inspection.