March is National Peanut Month, and while planting season is a few weeks away, Henry County peanut farmer Thomas Adams is already thinking about fall harvest and consumers across the country who eat peanuts.
“Right now we are checking equipment and making sure everything is ready for us to head to the fields next month to start planting,” said Adams, who intends to plant 850 acres of peanuts this year. Many of his decisions are based on experience — he’s been farming more than two decades. Others are based on research and what he deems best for his farm.
Adams said research funded by peanut producers throughout the nation helps farmers grow peanuts more efficiently, but the focus is always on providing a safe, healthy food.
“Other farmers like me contribute checkoff dollars for research that gives us pertinent information such as new peanut varieties and improved production practices,” Adams said. “Not only does research help us on our farm, it also funds consumer education.”
National Peanut Month began as National Peanut Week in 1941 and was expanded to a monthlong celebration in 1974. Many people celebrate the month by making peanut butter treats but may be unaware of what makes the popular food possible.
Adams, who lives in Newville, serves on the Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) board of directors, which supports National Peanut Month. He said part of APPA’s mission is promotion and consumer education.
“Without consumers, peanut farmers would be without a job, but it’s also important for consumers to understand where their food comes from,” he said.
U.S. peanut farmers have funded more than $10 million in peanut allergy research including a study published in February 2015. That information is used by medical professionals and consumers to help understand food allergies.
In the study, children were selected at random to either eat or avoid peanuts until age 5. The frequency of peanut allergies between the two groups was compared and showed early introduction of peanuts helps reduce peanut allergies. Read the report at LeapStudy.com.
Contributing to research missions like the allergy project is a source of pride for peanut farmers, said APPA Executive Director Caleb Bristow.
“Peanut growers across the country are proud to support grower and consumer research,” he said. “Consumer research continues to educate individuals on peanut nutrition and allergies as well as provide healthy ways to incorporate peanuts into their diet.”
The APPA is the checkoff organization representing nearly 1,000 peanut farmers in the state. Learn more online at alpeanuts.com.