The major obstacle, they finally came to understand, was the distance to a buyer. They needed a closer buying point.

In partnership with Swinson, Hudson built Four County Peanut Services at Warsaw, N.C.  It is a buying point for Golden Peanut Company, offering farmer friendly buying, grading and storage for up to 10,000 tons of peanuts.

Once the challenge of getting peanuts from the field to a buying point and getting paid for their crops was complete, Hudson says he could then concentrate on how to grow peanuts better. In his recently completed office facility, there is a shelf full of county peanut yield championships going back to 1969, when his father was growing the crop.

A key component of growing high yielding, high quality peanuts is the experience of the people who plant and dig the crop, he says. “I’m fortunate to have an excellent work force, some of whom were growing peanuts on our farm before I was born.”

“James ‘June Bug’ Faison and Thomas ‘Buck’ Morrisey have been working here for almost 50 years. Much of what I know about growing peanuts I learned from my father, my uncle Dewey Hudson, and from June Bug and Buck.”

Every step in the peanut production process has to be done right and has to be timely — from fertilizing and planting the crop to protecting it through the growing season. But, Hudson says, “The single most important day in a peanut crop is the day you choose to dig it.

“You can make or lose more yield and have the best or worst impact on quality, depending on whether you get the digging date right or whether you get it wrong.  Just a few days too early or too late, and you won’t get optimum production from your crop.

“June Bug says the key to digging peanuts is to not get ‘gas happy’ and go too fast when digging the crop. With some of our older digging machines, we still try to stay around 2.0-2.5 miles per hour. On our bigger, more modern diggers, we can go a good bit faster, but June Bug still likes to take it slow and careful when he’s digging peanuts.”

An additional 6-row digger, equipped with a Trimble GPS guidance system, should speed up the process and make it more precise, Hudson says. The combination of new technology and new and improved varieties will likely make selecting the right time to dig and the actual digging more efficient in the future.

“I read recently that this year’s North Carolina peanut yield champion grew 6,300 pounds per acre. My first thought was, how did he do that? My second thought was, he must have planted a lot of my favorite new variety — Bailey. Selecting the right variety is another critical part of peanut production, and Bailey is one of the best I’ve seen in my lifetime of growing peanuts.”

Peanuts have always been a part of his life, Hudson says, “and we’ve been fortunate to extend some of those cultural and social aspects of the crop to my family.

“Our operation is held together by my best friend and wife, Cece.  Without her support, dedication, work, and love, the operation would be nowhere close to what it is today.  Not only is she a big asset to the farm operation, she’s a great mother to our children — sons Pelmon,14, Paxton,13, and daughter, Phagan,12.”

rroberson@farmpress.com

          More from Southeast Farm Press

Transferring farm management responsibilities to the 'next generation'

Kudzu bugs transforming insect control picture of soybeans

Time to plan for cool-season forage