Eleven states account for most of the peanuts grown in the U.S. Georgia (50%) grows the major proportion of all peanuts followed by Texas (10%), Alabama (10%), Florida (9%), North Carolina (7%), and South Carolina (7%). There are approximately 7,000 peanut farmers in the major producing regions.
The peanut growing regions of the U.S. have direct access to port facilities of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
U.S. peanuts fall into four basic types: Runner, Virginia, Spanish and Valencia. Each of these peanuts is distinctive in size and flavor.
Runners have become the dominant peanut type grown in the U.S. due to the introduction in the early 1970’s of a new variety, the Florunner, which was responsible for a spectacular increase in peanut yields. Runners have rapidly gained wide acceptance because of their attractive kernel size range; a high proportion of runners are used for peanut butter. Runners, grown mainly in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, account for 80% of total U.S. production.
Virginias have the largest kernels and account for most of the peanuts roasted and eaten as inshells. When shelled, the larger kernels are sold as salted peanuts. Virginias are grown mainly in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina and West Texas. Virginia-type peanuts account for about 15% of total U.S. production.
Spanish-type peanuts have smaller kernels covered with a reddish-brown skin. They are used predominantly in peanut candy, with significant quantities used for salted nuts and peanut butter. They have higher oil content than the other types of peanuts which is advantageous when crushing for oil. They are primarily grown in Oklahoma and Texas. Spanish-type peanuts account for 4% of U.S. production.
Valencias usually have three or more small kernels to a pod. They are very sweet peanuts and are usually roasted and sold in the shell; they are excellent for fresh use as boiled peanuts. Because of the greater demand for other varieties, Valencias account for less than 1% of U.S. production and are grown mainly in New Mexico.