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by Lacy Gray, click here for bio
Program: Washington Ag Today
Date: May 28, 12
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Peanuts were grown primarily in the southern United States during the 19th century, and were regarded as only good as food for livestock. They’ve come a long way since then, becoming one of America’s favorite foods. Just ask Clark and Tami Bowen owners of the very successful CB’s Nuts in Kingston, Washington. They’ve been working for several years with Washington State University researchers to try and find a way to create a lucrative market for peanuts grown right here in Washington. If you’re thinking growing peanuts in Washington state can’t be done, guess again. Earlier this month the state's first commercial crop of Valencias peanuts were planted on Friehe Farms in Moses Lake, and some smaller producers have been growing peanuts on a smaller scale. Tim Waters, a regional vegetable specialist with WSU Extension, remembers his reaction back in 2006 when asked to come take a look at a Basin City growers first attempt at a peanut crop was one of disbelief, knowing that “we just didn’t grow peanuts here in Washington state”.
Waters says because peanuts are not normally grown commercially in Washington we don't have the infrastructure to handle them. A special harvester called an inverter is required to harvest peanuts, as well as extra equipment to let the plants dry out and facilities to shell and process the crop. There is also the allergen factor to consider, producers typically don't want to use peanuts in their factories because of the possible risk of cross-contamination from the allergens. Still, to say the Bowen’s are excited about the first commercial peanut crop being planted here in Washington would be an understatement. CB’s Nuts buys the bulk of their Valencia peanuts for roasting from producers in the Southwest, but if all goes well they’ll soon be buying their peanuts locally.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.
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