Groundnut is a readily available source of protein, oil, vitamin E and several other mineral elements. The groundnut crop also replenishes soil fertility through biological nitrogen fixation. It is a source of cash for many farmers and its haulms and straws can be used as animal feed.
- Land preparation must be done early enough (July or August) to allow decomposition of residues before the growing/rainy season.
- Residues should be buried under and the soils be ploughed deep (25-30 cm deep) to achieve looseness for pegs to easily penetrate
- Make flat topped ridges (beds) spaced at 75 cm apart
Plant with the first effective rains (approximately 25-30 mm). Make a groove 5-6 cm deep on the middle of the ridge, drop a single seed every 15 cm (75cm X 15cm X 1). Cover the groove firmly to ensure rapid and uniform emergence. Seed use: about 35 kg/ha.
Weed at least twice during the critical stage of growth which is the first 3 to 6 weeks after germination. Hand weeding should be done during pegging to avoid damage to developing pods. Chemical weed control can also be done using herbicides such as Dual Magnum, Roundup and Harness.
Fertiliser & Manure Application
Generally, groundnuts perform well following a well fertilized maize crop, so long as phosphorus, calcium and sulphur-containing fertilizers such as 23:21:0+4S were applied.
- Farmers should apply single superphosphate before or at sowing at a rate of 100 kg/ha to ensure good plant establishment and high yields. The fertilizer should be applied in a band on the ridge, or broadcasted onto the soil and ploughed under before sowing as a basal dressing.
- Top dressing with Gypsum at a rate of 200 kg/ha directly at the base of the plant when 30% of the plants have flowered helps to correct calcium deficiency and reduce groundnut pops.
Pest and disease control
Most important and widespread diseases of groundnut include Groundnut Rosette, Early and Late leaf spots and Rust. Generally, these diseases can be controlled by early sowing, crop rotation with a cereal, and removing and destroying all volunteer crops. Important pests include termites, aphids and Hilda spp. Termites can be controlled by deep ploughing, applying pesticides like Dursban, while aphids can be controlled by sowing early and removing volunteer crops. Hilda spp can be controlled by keeping the groundnut field and area around the field free of weeds.
Maturity and Harvesting
Harvest groundnut timely to avoid bleaching, dis-colouration of nuts, sprouting, pods remaining in the ground, and aflatoxin contamination. Maturity can be checked by lifting a few pods and examining the inside of the shell. When 75% of sampled plants show that the inside of the shell is spotted pale brown (spotted dark colour markings) with plump kernels that have reverted to the characteristic colour of the variety, then the groundnuts are mature and ready for harvesting. Dig groundnuts and leave them in windrows for a short period (1-5 days) to reduce moisture from 40-50% on lifting to 18-24%, after which drying should continue under shade or in Mandela corks to reduce moisture content further to the recommended storage level of 7-9%.
Stripping, Storage and shelling.
Remove groundnut from straws using hands or groundnut strippers. Store the groundnuts in pods and in well ventilated containers and structures to avoid mould development and aflatoxin contamination. Recommended storage pesticides can be applied. Groundnut are shelled by hand or mechanical shellers prior to sowing or selling. Do not wet pods prior to shelling as this may lead to development of moulds and aflatoxin contamination. Grade properly, taking out shrivelled, rotten, mouldy and split nuts.
Source: Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS), Malawi