Harvest Time For Texoma Peanut Farmers

With fall here and October looming, it's harvest time for one Texoma crop, but it's not cotton or wheat. It's one a lot of Texomans may not even know about.

Wilbarger County farmers are getting peanuts ready for the market.

First you take the peanuts and you plant 'em. Planting season was way back in April or May and believe it or not, Texas has more than 150,000 acres of peanuts that are ready for harvest right about now.

"Texas is second in peanut production behind Georgia, and has been in that position for several years," said Agronomist Todd Baughmann.

Baughmann said Wilbarger County is a hot spot of sorts for peanuts in Texoma, and has been for the last 20 years. The conditions are great for the crops, and plenty of irrigation is available.

Peanuts grow best in sandy soils, because they grow underground. If you were to grow these plants in a clay-like soil, you'd actually lose most of your peanuts when you dug them up.

The estimated 200 tons of peanuts in this field are the type you often see sold in the shell at a baseball game. But the majority of Texas peanuts are used for other purposes, like peanut butter. Peanuts you eat are usually roasted, but they don't have to be.

"Oh yeah. You can definitely eat raw peanuts. When you eat a raw peanut, it's gonna have more of a pea-type flavor," said Baughmann.

Several years ago, a change in the farm bill increased the number of peanut acres in Texas, but Baughmann said recent water issues and peanut prices have reversed that to a degree.

"Actually, we've kind of been in an up-and-down situation with peanuts. Peanuts are a very management-intensive and costly crop to grow," said Baughmann.

All the peanuts here have already been dug up, but Baughmann said they'll stay in the field for a couple more weeks to dry out. Ultimately farmers want to get all the peanuts completely harvested before the first freeze.

We also asked Baughmann about the effect food allergies have on peanut production and he said many groups, including peanut farmers, are spending money on finding medicines for peanut allergies. They're also trying to find out what it is in a peanut that causes allergies, so they can possibly get rid of it.

Spencer Blake, Newschannel6.