Grayson Co. Farmer Still Planting Peanuts - - No One Gets You Closer

Grayson Co. Farmer Still Planting Peanuts


GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Peanuts are a crop with a long history on Texoma farms, but planting them now is mostly a thing of the past, except on one farm.

After a lifetime of planting peanuts, Collinsville farmer Keith Welch gave up the business when a change in prices made it much less lucrative, but it was too much a part of his life to stop forever. Welch has now returned to planting his favorite crop, albeit on a smaller scale.

Many residents remember well a time when peanut farms dotted the landscape. "When I was a young girl growing up in Whitesboro, I went to school here, the area all around us was peanut farms, that was our main crop here," says Whitesboro Chamber of Commerce president Barbara Bailey.

Now, peanut farms are rare, but there are still some growing near Collinsville. "If I can make some money at it, I don't mind doing it, but I don't want to do it and lose money," says Welch.

Welch says he learned peanuts from his father who planted them starting in the years after World War II, and for his family, it is a hard tradition to let go of. "We like to eat them and we make boiled peanuts," says Melba Welch.

Welch says that when he started farming, he had hundreds of acres of peanuts, but now his main crop is hay and last year, he did not plant any peanuts.

"When we don't plant them every year, we don't have the diseases, like the leaf spot," says Melba Welch.

The government used to regulate peanut prices, but Welch says he sold his quota allotment for good back in 1997. For those who held out longer, Welch says the government bought back their quotas anyway. "Whenever they did away with the quotas, then the price fell and they were like $300 a ton and you can't raise them for that and make a profit, "says Keith Welch.

After going a decade without planting peanuts, Welch put in 22 acres worth a few years ago. He says with so few people growing peanuts now, there is somewhat of a shortage, and he hopes to take advantage of higher prices, and he certainly knows the craft. "I just enjoy growing them, because I did it for so long," says Keith Welch.

Welch sells the peanuts to a company in Madill and says he plans to keep growing them in the future, as long as it makes some financial sense. Much of his time now is spent baling hay for horse farms.