October 14, 2015 | Kelly Barany, Chin Ridge Seeds (en-CA)
While many of us faithfully buy peanuts for backyard bird feeding, have you ever stopped to wonder about where peanuts come from?
Peanuts are one of those crops that we don't get a chance to see much in Canada. That is because most peanut varieties require 3000 heat units to grow and mature and there are very few regions in Canada that get those kind of heat units. There are some peanuts grown in southern Ontario but for the most part, peanuts in North America are grown in the southern states - Georgia and Texas primarily as well as Alabama, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia. Peanuts are also grown in other parts of the world including Latin America and China but for quality control reasons, we buy our peanuts exclusively from the United States.
Given that most of us are not very familiar with peanut crops I thought it might be interesting to just share a bit of information on how peanuts are produced:
Peanuts are considered part of the legume family - like a pea or bean. However, unlike those plants where the pods are above ground, peanuts are more like potatoes where the peanuts are underground.
In fact, in order to harvest peanuts there are special machines that will unearth the peanuts and then turn the peanuts upside down (pods up) to dry. Then a harvester comes through and separates the peanuts from the rest of the plant. There are a few neat youtube videos that show you some information on crop production of peanuts.
Peanuts for bird feeding: Many birds love peanuts including chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, jays, towhees, juncos, titmice, and doves. This is likely related to the fact that peanuts have excellent nutritional value with high protein and fat content. We recommend serving them whole or hulled in a tray feeder or in a special peanut feeder. If you want to attract small birds, you are better off with a split skinless peanut since it is much easier for a small bird to handle than an in-shell peanut. We take pride in offering excellent quality peanuts to our customers and believe the birds know the difference!