The World is a Peanut Farm

Groundnuts and beyond in the Gambia

The Republic of the Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa. Each peanut farm is important to the village of Toro Bah, the Gambia. Farmers in Toro Bah grow okra, onions, tomatoes, and peanuts. Crops are eaten locally, and sold at the market. Peanuts are cleaned, sorted, shelled, roasted, and ground into peanut butter.

"I'll eat some, and I'll sell some" says a farmer in this video made in Toro Bah, The Gambia, 2010.

The Gambia's area is little more than the banks of the Gambia river. The narrow country is bordered by Senegal on all sides except for it's tiny coast on the Atlantic.

Agriculture provides about 30% of the Gambia's gross domestic product, and employs about 70% of the country's labor. Population is estimated to be 1,700,000 people. The few industrial businesses typically rely on agriculture, such as peanut processing. Peanuts account for about 7% of their GDP.

Peanut Farm in Jakin, Georgia

A successful peanut farm begins with equipment, and soil maintenance. The condition of the field, tractors, and other hardware used for tilling, planting, and harvesting are essential factors the farmer can manipulate for increased productivity, along with seed variety selection. Most other variables are outside of the farmers' direct control other than irrigation. As with other industries, farmers attempt to balance these expenses with potential gains.

These 3 videos made in Jakin, Georgia show the stages of modern industrial peanut farming in fabulous detail (copyright 2008 Costi productions).

First we see unloading a tractor from a trailer, equipment maintenance, tilling the soil, loading seeds into the planter, and applying inoculate to the seeds.

Peanut seeds are inoculated with bradyrhizobium bacteria powder in the planter just prior to planting. This bacteria will live inside the roots, and symbiotically convert atmospheric nitrogen to a form the plant can use.

The modern planter has GPS that can be engaged to drive the tractor over the intended rows.

With enough water the peanuts flower about 30 days after planting. Plants grow bushy under the sun, more flowers appear daily. Each flower lasts one day, and grows a peg after self pollination. The pegs grow downward into the soil.

Peanut pods form at the tip of each underground peg. Each plant forms about 40-50 pods.

Water is essential to the peanut plants' growth therefore irrigation is sometimes used to insure a good crop. This farm pumps water from a well to feed the rotating sprinklers.

Green peanuts are harvested about 90 days from germination. Dried peanuts grow about 120 to 140 days. Determining when to harvest peanuts may be the most important decision a farmer makes. Peanuts are harvested with a digger/shaker. The digger cuts the tap root, digs the plant from the ground, shakes the dirt from the plant, and inverts the plant, exposing the peanuts to the sun to dry in a windrow. The moisture content of freshly inverted peanuts is typically 35% to 50% by weight.

After sun drying in the windrow for several days the peanuts are combined. The combine picks up the peanuts, separates the pods from their vines, removes the stems from the pods, and then delivers clean undamaged pods into the hopper.

Peanut Buying Point in Surrency, Georgia

Peanuts are transported to the buying point as shown in this video. Raw peanuts are tracked with automation.

Incoming tests on the peanuts measure their moisture content. Peanuts' moisture content determines their drying time, and dried weight. Propane heaters with ducted fans are used to dry the peanuts in the trailers down to 10% moisture.

Old Time Peanut Harvesting
South Georgia Antique Tractor Club

The Triple River Antique Tractor Club in Crisp County Georgia demonstrates how peanuts were harvested during the 1930's and 1940's, using their collection of vintage machines. Their 1940's Turner Harvester was rescued from being scrapped, and its operation today brings history back to life. Using the old time methods, fresh dug peanuts are stacked to dry on vertical poles in the field prior to threshing.
Search Boiled Peanut World here.

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