Virginia Peanut Farm Celebrates National Peanut Day!
National Peanut Day is today, September 13; in celebration of National Peanut Day, Hope & Harmony Farms wishes to recognize our coming harvest. Peanuts are our livelihood and the production of a successful crop is always something to celebrate. While we have a ways to go to see our harvest come to fruition, I wanted to take the time to explain our peanut production and what it takes to complete our harvest.
What is the growing season?
Virginia peanuts are typically a five-month crop, and peanuts are planted after the last frost in April through May. The prime planting window occurs when soil temperatures reach 65°-70°F. We plant specially grown peanut kernels from the previous year’s crop about two inches in freshly turned soil, and approximately one to two inches apart in rows. For a good peanut crop, 120 to 150 frost-free days are required.
For Hope & Harmony Farms in Virginia, this is sometimes a little tricky. Due to wet and cool conditions during this year’s planting season, we were still planting peanuts into the first week of June. Not only did planting take longer to complete, but our area is also known for early frosts. The coming months and weeks will require a lot of hard work, dedication, and a little luck as we attempt to avoid any premature cold.
When are Virginia peanuts harvested?
Hope & Harmony Farms will begin this year’s Virginia peanut harvest in about ten days as begin the digging process. If Mother Nature cooperates, at the end of our ten-day wait the Pope boys will ride for miles upon miles stirring the fresh aroma of peanuts in the air. I guess I am a little excited, too!
The boys are currently working tediously to prepare our equipment. Equipment does not consist solely of tractors, but also the diggers and the peanut combines our tractors tow. Their preparation builds to the first day and on the first day of harvest the guys are like kids on Christmas morning. I guess there is still a little boy in each of them.
I would like to say once our Virginia peanut harvest arrives it is smooth sailing, but that is never the case. You have equipment that has been sitting idle for seven months and sometimes the machinery does not have the same enthusiasm as it operators. But, hey, that life, right?
Once the peanuts are dug and allowed to dry for a couple of days, the combine separates the peanut from the vine. When the basket is full, the peanuts are emptied into drying trailers and checked routinely before being stored for processing. There is no time clock and you work from sunup to sundown, or until everything is complete. Peanut farming is not your typical day job and eight hours does not cut it when you are working against the weather. Our boys will stay in the fields as long as they can because rain can set you back days or weeks, and frost will destroy your peanut crop.
Harvest is truly the culmination of hard work and effort. Our Virginia peanut production begins in April and will hopefully end by the close of October. What better way to celebrate the beginning of the end than National Peanut Day?
Happy Peanut Day, everyone! And remember: Love the land; Respect your roots; Give your best.