The peanut, while grown in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, is native to the Western Hemisphere. The peanut plant probably originated in Brazil or Peru, although no fossil records exist to prove this.
Overview of the U.S. Peanut Industry
The United States of America is one of many countries around the world that grow peanuts. Historically, the largest producing countries are India and China, but the majority of their production goes into the production of peanut oil.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in 2018, the top 10 producing countries were: Mainland China; India; Nigeria; Sudan; USA; Myanmar; Indonesia; United Republic of Tanzania; Argentina; Chad; and Senegal.
The map and graph above are taken from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Statistics Division: http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QC/visualize
Unlike most other producing countries, where the end products are peanut oil, cake and meal, the prime market for US peanut is in edible consumption, and the marketing and production focus is in that direction. Only 15% of US production is normally crushed for oil. Peanuts are the 12th most valuable cash crop grown in the United States with a farm value of over one billion US dollars.
Most of the US peanut crop is used in domestic edible products each year. Peanuts, peanut butter and peanut candy are some of the most popular products in the United States, with about 60% of the peanuts grown being used to make peanut butter.
The U.S. produces four basic varieties of peanuts: Runner, Virginia, Spanish and Valencia. Each type is distinctive in size and flavour.
After proper curing, farmers' stock peanuts (harvested peanuts that have not been shelled, cleaned or crushed) are inspected and graded to establish the quality and value of the product. The inspection process determines the overall quality and on-farm value of the shelled product for commercial sales or price support loans.
In the USA, peanuts are grown commercially in 15 states: Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, California, and Tennessee.
Peanuts are the seeds of an annual legume, which grows close to the ground and produces its fruit below the soil surface. USA peanuts are planted after the last frost in April or May when soil temperatures reach 65–70° Fahrenheit (20° Celsius).