On a strip of land in south central Oklahoma just miles from Thackerville and the Texas state line, farmer Anthony Reed and his family have been growing peanuts since the 1940s. Anthony’s father, Chester Reed, began raising peanuts for the government, establishing a family tradition that remains strongly in place today.

“Dad started raising peanuts for peanut oil.  During the war, the government discovered diesel engines were more efficient when they used peanut oil in them. Back then, the government was contracting with growers just for the oil,” says Reed.  In those early days, Chester Reed also raised watermelons.

The Reeds’ acreage, which is divided into smaller fields, is ideally suited for raising peanuts.  “They are traditionally geared towards small acreages and individual farms.  Here in central Oklahoma, it was always a crop that the smaller individual farm could do.”

In a field where the family just finished baling peanut hay, the soil feels more like a beach.  Reed characterizes the incredibly sandy ground as marginal.  “We can raise about 120 bushels per acre of corn on irrigated ground,” says Reed.

With more than 700 owned acres and additional leased ground, Reed’s operation is considered a medium-sized farm in this area.  Originally farming with his brothers twenty years ago, the operation changed due to tragedy when one brother was killed in a farming accident.  From that point, Reed’s remaining brother left farming, leaving Reed on his own.

Reed grows proven varieties like the Red River Runners on irrigated ground.  “The Spanish and Virginia just won’t produce. The Red River is my top yielding variety,” he says.  He’s grown OL07, 09Bs, 06, 01 and 02.  He has the best results from the FloRun107, planted on approximately 35 acres.  Reed employs a 1 and 4 rotation on his fields, which he believes adds to the quality.  This year, his grades are running in the mid-70s and he hopes to see 5,000 pounds per acre this season. 

“In 2011, the Red River Runners averaged about 4,000 pounds per acre.”  Like many other growers, Reed experienced little disease or pests because of the drought.  “In the years where we control the moisture, there is just less disease.”

Reed plants rye in October behind the peanuts.  “It has a very good root system and provides a lot of forage.  It also holds the land from wind erosion.”