When tobacco fell out of favour in the 1990s, new crops were researched to be grown in the well-drained, rich and sandy soils of Haldimand and Norfolk Counties in Ontario. The climate turned out to be ideal for peanuts (among other field crops like garlic, melons,ginseng & shallots). Because these plants are highly susceptible to frost, the long Southern Ontario growing season was perfect. Harvesting takes place in late September-early October.
Technically a legume, peanuts are a crop native to South America. There are four strains of the peanut plant; Valencia, Spanish, Virginia and Runner. However, only the first two are able to be grown in Ontario. OAC Garroy, OAC Ruby and OAC Tango are the Valencia varieties licensed for growth in Ontario. The OAC Garroy variety, a sweet, red-skinned nut, is the most commonly one grown in Ontario and contains up to four peanuts per shell – a bonus for consumers. They are absolutely delicious!
The University of Guelph’s Department of Plant Agriculture’s peanut-breeding program has produced some unique-looking peanuts — with skins of white to pale green and red, and nuts striped black, red and white.
This research was led by Professors Jack Tanner and Tom Michaels with Gary Ablett and Bob Roy working in the field (hence the name Garroy). It was sponsored mainly by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Today the research has continued under the guidance of Peter White in AAFC’s soon-to-be-closed Delhi Station.
Photo taken at the Simcoe Research Station by the author.