America’s PB Farmers: Mississippi’s B .Jones
Peanuts started as a trial rotation crop for fourth-generation farmer Bernard “B.” Jones, but quickly became a mainstay in his farm’s rotation. Today, B. plants and harvests about 600 acres of peanuts on the 3,800-acre family farm.
“My brother Will and I started planting peanuts in 2010. Our neighbors had been raising them for a few years, so we decided to give it a shot too. They have been really successful for us,” said B. “Plus, I think the way that peanuts are harvested and handled is so interesting. Most people don’t know that peanuts contain 25 to 50 percent moisture when they are first dug up. We have to leave the plants out in the fields for two or three days to dry before the peanuts can actually be separated from the vines.”
Runner peanuts, the kind that are used to make peanut butter, are most commonly grown in the Southeast, in an area fondly known as the Peanut Belt. In the heart of Mississippi, just outside of Jackson, B.’s farm has the ideal location for growing peanuts and other crops.
“Our farm is unique because of how sandy a lot of the soil is and how high the water table is,” B. said. “We’re right on the bluffs where the Mississippi Delta meets the hills so the water flow from the hills ensures we always have plenty of water on our farm.”
Though B.’s experience in the peanut industry is budding, that hasn’t stopped his love for peanuts and peanut butter from continuing to grow.
“My favorite thing about farming peanuts is growing a crop that is consumed by almost every household in the country,” he said. “Through this whole process my family’s love for peanuts has deepened and we’ve explored new ways to incorporate it into our meals. One of our favorites is Shrimp Pad Thai. A friend of ours made it for us a few years ago, and we just loved it, especially with fresh Gulf shrimp. We’ve been making it ever since!”
B.’s excitement for peanuts doesn’t stop at food. He’s enthusiastic about where the industry is headed and eager to be a part of the future of peanut production.
“Between the new allergy studies that recommend introducing peanut butter to children and infants, and the rest of the world seeing the quality of the peanuts grown in the U.S., I think demand will continue to increase globally,” B. concluded. “I’m proud to be part of a growing industry that’s helping increase the quality standards for food across the country and the globe.”