The availability of irrigation is a critical factor in choosing a market type of peanut. Runner market types of peanuts require more water than Spanish varieties. In recent years, Oklahoma producers have increased their production of runner varieties. Runners require a longer growing season - around 160 days compared to 140 to 145 days for Spanish varieties.
Recently, the majority of breeding efforts have been spent on development of high oleic fatty acid varieties. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid credited with benefiting the cardiovascular system, as well as warding off spoilage and off-flavor in stored peanut products. The shelling industry is increasingly expressing a desire for the high oleic acid trait.
Runners have become the dominant type due to the introduction in the early 1970s of a new runner variety, Florunner, which was responsible for a spectacular increase in peanut yields. Runners have wide acceptance because of the attractive, uniform kernel size. A large percentage of the runners grown are used for peanut butter.
Virginias have the largest kernels and account for most of the peanuts roasted and processed in the shell. When shelled, the larger kernels are sold as snack peanuts.
Spanish-type peanuts have smaller kernels covered with a reddish-brown skin. They are used predominantly in peanut candies, with significant quantities used for snack nuts and peanut butter. They have a higher oil content than the other types of peanuts, which is advantageous when crushing for oil.
Valencias usually have three or more small kernels to a pod and are covered in a bright-red skin. They are very sweet peanuts and are usually roasted and sold in the shell. They are also excellent for fresh use as boiled peanuts.
Oklahoma Peanut Commission