When Vic Swinson got into the peanut business, he did it right and he did it big. But most importantly, he says, he got in it with the right person — his long-time friend, Jart Hudson.

Swinson, this year’s Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award winner for the Upper Southeast, now farms 1,500 to 1,800 acres of peanuts and several thousand acres of grain crops. His wife, Teresa; daughter, Katie; and son, Lee, are all integral parts of the farming operation.

The Mt. Olive, N.C., producer grew up on a tobacco and grain farm in Duplin County, and never thought of doing anything but farming. When he graduated from high school, he got a few acres of tobacco and few acres of cropland from his father, and has never looked back.

Getting into the peanut business was a bit serendipitous. He started growing cotton in the early 1990s and became a partner in a cotton gin. One of the partners is Jart Hudson, who farms in nearby Samson County. The two became good friends — more like brothers — and subsequently established and developed Four County Peanut Company.

Swinson developed an interest in peanuts from visiting with an uncle in Martin County, in northeast North Carolina. At that time, the allotment system was in place and Swinson had no way of getting into the peanut program.

He shared with Hudson his interest in peanuts and of helping his uncle from time-to-time with his peanut crop. When the allotment system went out, Hudson, who grew up in a peanut farming operation, helped Swinson get started with 300 acres of peanuts in 2003.

“That first year was a really good one, and we knew we wanted to get more involved in growing peanuts,” he recalls. Now, he and Hudson are among the larger peanut growers left in North Carolina.