Grown Here at Home: Virginia peanuts making big impact across Commonwealth

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 8:55 AM EST
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FRANKLIN, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia peanuts are the largest and crunchiest of all types grown in the U.S. Not only are they grown in the Commonwealth, but North Carolina and South Carolina. They’re grown in the sandy soil of the southeastern part of Virginia.

“They’re all in about eight contiguous counties east of 95 and west of the Norfolk Metropolitan area,” said Dell Cotton, executive secretary of the Virginia Peanut Growers Association.

They’re also called the “Ballpark Peanut” because the ones you buy at baseball games are most likely Virginia peanuts. So, while they’re not grown here at home, the economic impact spans across the Commonwealth and beyond. It’s a multi-million-dollar industry that generates over $20 million just to the growers.

“Of course, that’s going to turn over multiple times within the economy, as well as the manufacturing adds that much more to it,” Cotton said.

During the pandemic, peanut sales increased by 3%,.

“Peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut products -- a lot of people turn to peanuts for comfort food,” Cotton explained.

About 200 growers are part of the Virginia Peanut Growers Association – accounting for 29,000 acres of peanuts planted this year.

“What the association does on their behalf is to conduct programs of research, education, and promotion,” Cotton said.

The growing season begins in May.

“The peanut seed literally is a peanut itself. It’s planted two inches below the ground. You’ll start seeing the peanut plant start forming out of the ground in 10-12 days,” explained Marianne Catalano, executive director of Virginia Carolinas Peanuts promotions.

They’re harvested around mid-September or the first of October. Farmers will use an inverter to flip the plants out of the ground so they can dry out.

“The peanuts are laying on top of the field for about three to five days, because you want to soak up all of that moisture the peanut itself has obtained,” Catalano said.

A combine will separate the peanut from the plant.

“And then the peanut is taken to a buying point and then it’s taken to the manufacturer,” Catalano explained.

Whether you like your peanuts boiled, in the shell or gourmet, aboutpeanuts.com has information on peanuts you can buy from Virginia growers.

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