RICHMOND—March is National Peanut Month, and peanuts are an important part of Virginia’s agriculture industry. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently announced that 2014 was a record-setting year for the state’s peanut growers. Virginia broke national records with a yield of 4,350 pounds per acre, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Growers credit the extremely high yields to improved seed varieties, longer rotations and good growing conditions. The 2014 national average was a yield of 3,932 pounds per acre. “While last year’s growing conditions were very favorable overall, the outstanding yields attained here in Virginia attest to the great job our farmers across the commonwealth do in raising and producing an incredibly diverse mix of products,” said Spencer Neale, director of commodity marketing for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “We may not always be the biggest in terms of overall acreage and production when compared with other states, but we have some of the best farmers in the country.” According to the National Peanut Board, peanuts are grown commercially in 15 U.S. states. The Virginia-type peanut is prized for its exceptional taste, texture and larger size. Southeastern Virginia boasts the ideal climate and soil conditions for peanut production, and peanut-producing localities include Dinwiddie, Greensville, Isle of Wight, Prince George, Southampton, Surry and Sussex counties and the city of Suffolk. Specialty food companies across the state produce many peanut-based edibles. Virginia is home to nearly 175 peanut growers. According to NASS data, those growers harvested 19,000 acres with more than 82 million pounds of production in 2014. Peanuts are ranked 16th among the state’s top 20 agricultural commodities in terms of cash receipts. To mark National Peanut Month, the Virginia Peanut Growers Association and Peanut Proud, the industry’s charitable organization, are donating more than 10,000 jars of peanut butter to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. Media: Contact Neale at 804-290-1156.