SMALL SCALE GROUNDNUTS FARMING

December 3, 2020 Hansie Britz

    

Groundnut production/ farming can hold many benefits for smallholder farmers, especially when included on a crop rotation program. These benefits include enhancing the nitrogen content of the soil. Groundnuts do best in warm regions, where the minimum air temperature does not fall below 15 degrees C during the growing season.

Soil & Climate

Best results are obtained from deep, well- drained soils in good condition. Suitable soils include sands and sandy loams. Groundnuts will not grow well on acid soils and thus liming may be necessary for good production (the ideal pH is 5,3 to 6,8). Groundnuts must not be grown on the same land more than once in every four years. Groundnuts are a good crop to grow before maize.

Groundnuts are sensitive to cool overcast conditions both in the early part of the season and during pod filling. The ideal season is one which has much sunshine, coupled with sufficient rainfall, especially during pegging and pod filling.

Fertilization

Basic fertilization – Groundnuts should be grown in rotation with cereals (e.g. maize and sorghum), which have been fertilized, because groundnuts respond well when a fertilizer is applied to the previous crop rather than to the groundnuts themselves. Thus, in the most cases, no basal compound fertilizer is applied. Groundnuts  respond well to manure, because the manure not only supplies nutrients, but also helps to ameliorate soil acidity.

Top dressing – Groundnuts have a high requirement for calcium, especially during the pegging stage. Low availability of calcium at this stage will result in a large proportion of empty shells.

Harvesting

The harvesting process includes loosening, lifting, wilting, cocking (curing), picking and finally shelling. It is important that once the plants are lifted they be allowed to wilt for a few days with the pods exposed to the air before cocking. When cocking the groundnuts keep the plants off the ground. Ensure the cock is constructed to allow free flow of air through the cock, to facilitate rapid drying. Curing and drying may take from 2 to 4 weeks. Begin picking when the kernels rattle in the pods.. It is possible to pick one to two bags per person per day.

Groundnuts must be dry before placing in a storehouse. The storehouse must be dry, cool and well ventilated. It is best to store groundnuts in their shells.

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