Interview with Peanut Farmer Donny Lassiter
Donny L Lassiter
Lassiter Family Farms LLC. North Carolina / Conway.
Tell us a little about your farm & operations.
Lassiter Family Farms is a family farm in northeastern North Carolina. My brother and I are third-generation farmers, working several thousand acres in both North Carolina and Virginia.
Why did you become a Peanut Farmer?
Peanuts have always been a crop we have grown, since my grandfather was farming in the 1940s. It is a reliable crop that fits well into our rotation of other crops and grows well with our soil types.
How long have you been a Peanut Farmer?
My family has been growing peanuts for three generations, and I have been back on the farm and actively involved in peanut production for the past 20 years. Peanuts have always been a large part of our heritage and history, not only for our farm but for the entire area in which we call home.
Do you grow anything else?
Yes, we grow up to 9 different crops in a crop year. Currently, in addition to peanuts, we grow cotton, corn, non-GMO food-grade soybeans, wheat, rye and pumpkins.
How do you know when it's time to harvest the peanuts?
The peanuts we grow are mature approximately 145 days after planting. However determining when the best time to “dig” peanuts is based on the darkness of the hull. This determination, like many aspects of farming, is partially dependent on experience, art, and science.
What tools/machinery do you use to plant & harvest peanuts?
For our farm, you would need a way to till the area being planted, a strip-till implement, a planter to plant, a sprayer to manage the crop, a peanut digger/inverter to “dig” the peanuts and finally a peanut combine to harvest the peanuts. Unlike your conventional grain combines, a peanut combine can only harvest one crop, peanuts.
If you could provide 1 piece of farming advice to a young person looking to be the next generation of peanut farmers what would that be?
Ask as many questions as you can to experienced peanut growers and extension agents to find out what has worked best in the past. However, don’t be afraid to try something different.
In your own words why is farming so important?
How has it shaped you as a person? Farming is something I grew up around. To me, it’s a passion - I love what we do. It’s rewarding to know we can make a livelihood growing food and fiber for hundreds of people. While we are proud of what we do, every year is a clean slate and we try ever year to do it better than we did the year before while improving our energy usage and efficiency.
Can I grow peanuts in my garden at home?
Sure you can, with unroasted peanuts.
What is your favorite way to eat Peanuts?
I love them any kind of way, including green peanuts straight out of the field, boiled, roasted, or fried. My favorite peanuts are Hampton Farms, Cajun HOT NUTS.
Do you have any peanut recipes you would share with us?
One of my landowners makes the most delicious peanut pies! She shared her recipe with me recently.
Mrs. West’s Peanut Chess Pies
- 16 unbaked tart shells
- ½ cup butter
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 Tablespoon corn meal
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups chopped roasted (skinned) peanuts
Melt butter. Blend sugar and corn meal together and add to butter. Mix eggs, slightly beaten, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to butter mixture. Add peanuts and mix well. Spoon into pie shells. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.