Partner Profile: North Carolina Peanut Growers Association
North Carolina farmers produce approximately 441 million pounds of peanuts per year on more than 100,000 acres of land. Ensuring peanuts continue as big business for the state is the goal of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association, a non-profit, 1,700-member organization of the state’s peanut growers. Founded in 1953, it promotes the production, marketing and consumption of peanuts through research, education, legislation and other means. Part of the association’s effort to improve and protect the income-producing crop includes a long-running relationship with NC State and early support of the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative (N.C. PSI).
“The yield per acre of peanuts has gone from 1,500 pounds per acre in 1953 to 4,500 pounds per acre today. That is a function of varieties that were developed at NC State,” says Bob Sutter, CEO of the association. “We wanted to be a part of the Plant Science Initiative simply because we need innovation to stay in business.”
North Carolina accounts for 9% of peanuts produced in the United States, the majority of which are Virginia variety, a large, crunchy snacking peanut. Challenges for peanut growers that develop from year-to-year include weed management, pests and viruses or bacteria that can cause disease in plants.
“We need the research capabilities to identify them and find a solution, whether its genetic, cultural or chemical,” says Sutter.
Sutter credits NC State’s active breeding program and research in the field at the Peanut Belt Research Station with the continued success of NC farmers.
“We don’t have room to have many failures. A bad year can put you out of business, so we need the tools that NC State provides,” says Bob. “We’re glad to be partners with N.C. PSI. The cutting-edge research it will produce is our future.”
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Senior Director of Development, Plant Sciences Initiative