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FutureStarrPeanut plant life cycle
Peanut plant. A plant with peanuts on it, especially one whose blossoms or young growth produce these fruit-bearing pods.
World annual production of shelled peanuts was 44 million tonnes in 2016, led by China with 38% of the world total. Atypically among legume crop plants, peanut pods develop underground (geocarpy) rather than above ground. With this characteristic in mind, the botanist Carl Linnaeus gave peanuts the specific epithet hypogaea, which means "under the earth".
Cultivation was well-established in Mesoamerica before the Spanish arrived. There, the conquistadors found the tlālcacahuatl (the plant's Nahuatl name) being offered for sale in the marketplace of Tenochtitlan. The peanut was later spread worldwide by European traders, and cultivation is now widespread in tropical and subtropical regions. In West Africa, it substantially replaced a crop plant from the same family, the Bambara groundnut, whose seed pods also develop underground. In Asia, it became an agricultural mainstay and this region is now the largest producer in the world.
Peanut plants continue to produce flowers when pods are developing; therefore even when they are ready for harvest, some pods are immature. In order to maximize yield, the timing of harvest is important. If it is too early, too many pods will be unripe; if too late, the pods will snap off at the stalk, and will remain in the soil.
Virginia group peanuts are either bunch or running in growth habit. The bunch type is upright to spreading. It attains a height of 45 to 55 cm (18 to 22 in), and a spread of 70 to 80 cm (28 to 31 in), with 80 to 90 cm (31 to 35 in) rows that seldom cover the ground. The pods are borne within 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) of the base of the plant.