Finding a good crop to grow in harmony with cotton was an ongoing challenge for Luray, S.C., grower Bud Bowers, but a decade or so ago he found a near perfect match: peanuts.

Now, the crop is an integral part of his farming operation.

Corrin F. Bowers, Jr., known to one and all as Bud, is the 2012 Peanut Profitability winner for the Virginia-Carolina peanut-producing belt. He grows about 600 acres of peanuts and 1,200 acres of cotton on his farm, located about 100 miles west of Charleston, S.C.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1975, farming was undergoing some serious problems, and his father didn’t want him to be a farmer. So, Bud started his professional life selling specialty advertising products.

“But, I knew I wanted to farm,” he says, “and I thought I wanted to be a peach grower,” he says.

So, in 1976, he went back to the farm, growing corn, soybeans, cotton and peaches. After a rough start in drought-plagued 1976 and 1977, the peach business finally came around and did well into the 1980s.

In 1986, he had a complete crop failure with peaches, forcing him to take some unwanted steps in order to survive.

“By the mid-1990s,” Bud says, “I finally realized I couldn’t make it growing peaches here — our climate is too prone to hot, humid weather and early spring freezes.”

He went through some tough times trying to get out of the peach business and find a different crop mix.

“Without the support of my wife, Sallie, I couldn’t have made it,” he says. “She comes from a farm background, and she knew some of the things I was going through.”

Now married more than 31 years, Bowers says Sallie’s support and that of his family have played a big role in whatever success he’s had in farming.

His daughter, now Louisa Beach, helped with the business side of his farming operation, doing weekly payroll and taxes. His son, Corrin F. Bowers III, now farms in partnership with him.

The soil and climate in the southeast corner of South Carolina, where he farms, is ideal for growing cotton, and after peaches were gone, Bud significantly expanded his cotton acreage. But, finding a second or third crop to go along with cotton proved a more difficult task.

In 2002 serendipity came calling: The peanut allotment program was gone; peanuts had never been grown on most of his land, reducing potential disease risks; and prices were good compared to other crops. So, he got into the peanut business.