|Scott Russell who is the Ag Extension Agent in Terry County (southwest of Lubbock) which grows a lot of peanuts. Calling Scott, we made arrangements to meet him in Brownfield to see peanuts being harvested and a peanut packing and storage plant. Scott was very gracious to spend so much time with us, taking us to a field where they were in the thick of harvest and we learned so many things about them. He told us there are 4 varieties of peanuts grown in the U.S. and only in Texas are all 4 are grown. Texas is also the second largest peanut growing state next to Georgia. They are Virginia, Spanish, Valencia and Runner. They need 110-150 days to grow to maturity (depending on the variety). Peanuts are really in the legume family as they grow below the ground (just like potatoes). They are the most popular of all "nuts" even though they're not really a nut. They are very high in protein. Visit http://www.texaspeanutboard.com/index.html and you can learn how to make your own peanut butter...YUM! Once they have matured, a machine drives along the rows, which are planted 40 inches apart, digs them up, turns them over and lays the 2 rows over into one where the peanuts then stay on the vine and dry for several days. Once they have dried, a combine comes in to pick up the harvest. Plants and all are scooped up into the combine headers and through the machine the vines and leaves are separated from the peanuts in the shell. Once the hopper is full, a tractor pulling a big open cage pulls up to the combine and empties into the cage. Then when the cage is full it is hauled to a spot in the field where it is augured from the cage into a semi truck to be hauled to the storage plant. Big companies like Kraft, Planters, and others who market peanuts and peanut products then purchase them from the packing and storage plant. Peanuts don't have many pests but are successible to disease, mold and rot because they take lots of water to grow. The following information is taken from the Texas Peanut Producers Board: Runner Peanuts are the most widely consumed variety and have delicious flavor, great roasting characteristics and high yields. It is also used mostly for peanut butter. Spanish peanuts are used mostly in peanut candies, peanut snacks and peanut butter. This peanut is easily identified by its smaller kernels and its redish-brown skin. It also has a high oil content, which makes it an excellent choice for extracting oil. Valencia peanuts are a sweet peanut with a bright red skin. This peanut usually contains three or more kernels in a longer shell. Valencia peanuts are mostly served roasted and sold inshell or boiled. Virginia Peanuts are often called “cocktail nuts,” they are considered large-kernelled. Its size makes it great for processing, particularly for salting, confections and inshell roasting. Some farmers put a special attachment on the back of their combine which gathers the vines and leaves which is then bailed and used for cattle feed much like alfalfa and is high in nutrients. Sadly we never made it to the packing and storage plant as we had transmission trouble with our car and had to have it towed to Lubbock to the Ford garage for repair. Bless Scott's heart, even though he was busy, he saw us through that entire process.