National Peanut Research Lab

usdaThe Georgia Peanut Tour visited the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga. This lab was established in 1965 for the purpose of improving farming practices. Since that time, scientists have studied a variety of factors involved in peanut production from better planting practices to better irrigation practices. Scientists have also researched ways to improve harvesting methods, storage methods, and the better use of environmental and financial resources.

At this stop, Georgia Peanut Tour attendees were able to see firsthand the ongoing research programs at the USDA/ARS National Peanut Research Lab and hear from some of the researchers themselves. NPRL conducts a variety of projects to assist the peanut industry focusing on environmental research, systems research, flavor/quality research, peanut grading research, storage research and mycotoxin research with particular emphasis on the aflatoxins. The Laboratory conducts research toward improving quality, cleaning, storing and marketing of peanuts. Research is oriented toward solving the major problems confronting the peanut producer, handler, manufacturer, and the consumer. NPRL is also intricately involved in studies toward developing new and improved production marketing systems to reduce unit cost, enhance domestic and foreign use of peanuts and provide a safe, high quality product to the consumer. To learn more about the National Peanut Research Laboratory visit them on their website.

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Rooted in History

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Photo courtesy of heritagecenter.org

To continue a day full of rich South Georgia history tour attendees ended the day  at the Thronateeska Heritage Center. Thronateeska Heritage Center is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1974 for the purpose of historic preservation and science education in Albany and Southwest Georgia.

Thronateeska’s campus includes a history museum, science museum, rail car display, a 40′ full dome HD planetarium, the Georgia Museum of Surveying & Mapping, and the South Georgia Archives. The museum facilities are housed in historic structures and new construction designed to reflect and retain the railroad heritage of the area. In 1974, concerned and community-spirited citizens championed the cause for revitalization of the historic downtown railroad depot area. Thronateeska Heritage Foundation, Inc. resulted from the merger of the Southwest Georgia Historical Society, organized in 1969, and the Albany Junior Museum, Inc., founded in 1959 by the Junior League of Albany.

Through Thronateeska’s efforts, the 1913 Union Station depot, located in what is now known as Heritage Plaza, was preserved as a legendary landmark, converted into a museum, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

The Wetherbee Planetarium was open during the event and attendees were able to watch several showings as well as tour the science museum.

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Attendees had the choice of Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream.

At the end of the evening, tour attendees were able to enjoy the annual low country boil and supper was finished up with a variety of peanut butter flavored ice creams. As always, the Georgia Peanut Tour appreciates the support from Dow AgroSciences and look forward to this event each year., So, a special thanks to all who have a hand in making this dinner such a successful night! This low country boil tradition has been sponsored by Dow AgroSciences for all 31 Georgia Peanut Tours.

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Dr. Culbreath speaks on tomato spotted wilt and leaf spot

Albert Culbreath, a 28 plus year professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia Tifton campus, works primarily with foliar fungal diseases of peanut and tomato spotted wilt virus of peanut. Culbreath arrived at UGA shortly after tomato spotted wilt showed up, so needless to say they have a long history. “We’ve made tremendous progress dealing with that disease but it’s still around and still causes problems. Leaf spot has been a problem with peanuts as long as we’ve been growing peanuts in Georgia. We’re working on resistance and integrated management for both of those diseases, but with the leaf spot we’re still very heavily dependent upon fungicides for control of those,” says Culbreath. An awful lot of his work is geared toward looking with the different breeding programs, trying to help develop and utilize better resistance to spotted wilt and the leaf spot diseases.

The spotted wilt part of peanut RX is a tremendous decision tool for growers so the biggest factor with that is the ranking of variety for resistance to tomato spotted wilt. “We spend a lot of time trying to rank the cultivars depending on how susceptible or resistant they are. That’s the primary thing after planning date choice and typically with tomato spotted wilt, the earlier you plant, the greater the risk of damage from spotted wilt so if you’re planting a more moderately resistant variety or more susceptible variety, you would want to dodge an early planting,” the UGA researcher continued. The peanut RX would help with decisions like that. We only have one insecticide that provides suppression of spotted wilt. Thimet. There’s currently a few insecticides that work well on thrips or control the vector of spotted wilt, but Thimet is the only one that helps suppress the disease itself so those all come into play. Those are incorporated into the index and the index also helps you look at the additive effects of the different factors We will use the RX for the other diseases too and things like planting dates are just the opposite for tomato spotted wilt and leaf spot. “The earlier you plant, the higher the risk for tomato spotted wilt but the lower the risk for leaf spot”, says Culbreath. “If you have a low risk variety for tomato spotted wilt, we’re using that to let growers know that you can plant and dodge some of the leaf spot pressure. We have severe problems with fungicide resistance to some of the fungicide classes,” he adds. Some fungicides don’t work alone in Culbreath’s fields now so he’s looking at different combinations, different alternations that will prolong the utility of those fungicides so that’s the main focus of what he has going on in Plains at the University of Georgia’s Southwest Georgia Research & Education Center.

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Plains, Peanuts and a President

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Plains, Georgia and President Jimmy Carter go together like peanut butter and jelly, that’s why the Georgia Peanut Tour would not have been complete in this area of the state without a visit to the home of the 39th President of the United States. Tour attendees were able to visit President Carter’s Boyhood Home and learn firsthand about the life of President Carter as a child. The former president talked about his days living in Plains and then in the White House. President Carter started his peanut business at the young age of five. That’s when he pulled up peanuts from his father’s field, cleaned them and boiled them. He then headed into Plains, Ga. to sell the boiled peanuts. He made money selling the boiled peanuts until he was 8 years old.

President Carter owes much of his success today to his life in Plains and growing up on the farm. Today, President Carter and Rosalynn are active with Habitat for Humanity. The Georgia Peanut Tour Committee chair, Glen Harris presented President Carter with a Georgia Peanut Tour shirt and gift basket filled with Georgia peanuts and peanut novelty items
.IMG_4651 Also at this tour stop, attendees were able to enjoy grilled pb&j’s presented by the National Peanut Buying Point Association. These sandwiches are a favorite for tour attendees- President Carter even swiped one up before taking a group photo with the crowd.

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The 39th president, Jimmy Carter enjoys a grilled PB&J

This weekend, Sept. 23, the town of Plains celebrates with the annual Plains Peanut Festival. There are several activities planned all weekend. To learn more about the festival click here.

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Peanut Maturity Means Cash to Farmers

One of the most popular questions asked about peanut farming is, “How do farmers know when to dig their peanuts?” Farmers utilize the hull scrape method and peanut profile board to determine when to dig and the resulting yield and grade means cash to farmers.

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Farmers pod-blast their peanuts before placing the sample on the maturity profile board. The pod-blasting process is a good method in mitigating peanut losses. The board is colored coded from lighter colors to darker so researchers and extension agents can separate them via color on the chart to determine the number of days until maturity.

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Some peanut fields planted on the same date may mature at different times based on cultivar selection, soil type or weather patterns. Knowing when to dig peanuts can mean the difference between loosing and gaining 200 lbs. per acre.

During the visit at the Lang-Rigdon Farm in Tifton, tour participants were able to see this process firsthand, as well as load up on trams and travel through the farm to learn about some of the latest peanut research being conducted at the University of Georgia. They also got a chance to hear more about some of the issues Georgia peanut farmers have faced in the 2016 growing season.

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Irwin County Crop Update

irwinIrwin county is a diverse county. It is number one in the state in muscadine production and close to number one in blackberries, but row crops are also a predominant acreage in Irwin County. Farmers in Irwin County mainly plant cotton, peanuts, corn, tobacco, wheat and soybeans have been on the rise in the most recent years. For the last couple of years, Irwin County’s peanut acreage has been around twenty-two thousand acres, with some years  having a little bit more.

“With the new Farm Bill, we’ve seen our acreage go up,” states Phillip Edwards, Coffee County extension agent. “This year has been a tough year. We’ve had a lot of disease issues that have come on.” Peanut farmers in this area have also faced issues with spider mites in some dry-land fields and on dry corners of irrigated fields. The problem with these issues are not everywhere, but they are hit or miss for the farmers in Irwin Co.

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When in Drought…

2016 has been a trying year for peanut farmers across the state. During the first stop of the day on the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour, attendees were able to hear and see some of the hardships Georgia farmers are facing. Armond Morris, Georgia Peanut Commission chairman had his equipment hooked and up and ready to dig peanuts when the tour arrived at his farm in Irwin County, Ga. Morris’ farm stop sits on the boundary line of Irwin and Berrien counties off of Highway 158. Morris is a long-time farmer who plants a crop rotation of cotton, peanuts and wheat. He usually grows corn, too, but has elected to only grow cotton and peanuts this growing season.

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Peanuts being harvested at the farm of  GPC chairman, Armord Morris in Irwin Co., Ga.

All of Morris’ crops are strip-till. Peanuts grown on his farm are Georgia 06s, which is the primary peanut grown in Georgia. “It is a great peanut. I think it’s a great peanut for the industry as far as manufacturing is concerned. It’s a very tasty peanut and it makes good peanut butter and roasted nuts,” states Morris.

The peanut tour participants were able to see March 26 planted peanuts being picked that did not receive any rainfall from the end of June through the month of July. The peanuts on Morris’ farm have been sprayed with four applications of white mold treatment and then sprayed with 7-20 six times. It has been a hot summer in South Georgia and farmers faced the struggle of keeping enough water to keep their peanuts growing. Morris stated it was important they stayed with this application program due to the exceedingly dry weather conditions. He went on to state that there will be some dry land peanuts in this area that will have a lot of disease issues that could result in Seg. 2 or Seg. 3 peanuts.

The GPC chairman thanked participants for attending the tour. Morris stated he hopes after the tour is over, attendees will better understand what the Georgia Peanut Commission means to the whole peanut industry and the whole United States as far as production of peanuts.

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Peanut Partners & Coffee County Crop Update

Tour peanutpartnersparticipants were able to learn more about the grading process for peanuts and the sorting, drying and storage methods at a Peanut Partners buying point in Douglas, Ga. during the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour. As peanuts enter the buying point the semitrailers of peanuts are dried and then samples are taken from the trailers for grading. The peanuts are graded by employees of the Georgia Federal State Inspection Service. Peanut Partners is a relatively  new business to Coffee County, co-owners Clarkie Leverette, Phil Murray, and Lyle Gaskins opened the peanut facility in August 2015.

Mark von Waldner has served as the county extension agent in Coffee Co. for four years. Prior to his time in Coffee Co. von Waldner served as the county extension agent in Atkinson Co. for 23 years. “Peanuts have been one of my favorite crops and we are excited the peanut tour is coming through Coffee County this year, he says.” This year Coffee Co. has over 50,000 acres of peanut planted, which is a lot more than the counties average due to low cotton prices “Peanuts are very important to us. The crop this year has been tough; each field has been hit or miss with rains,” von Waldner adds.  Irrigated peanuts in the county still looks pretty good, but it’s going to be a tough call on dry land as when to dig. Farmers in Coffee Co.  have had some issues with white mold, mostly dry weather has caused lesser cornstalk borers problem and some burrowing bug and spider mite issues. “Overall, Coffee Co. is expected to have a pretty good crop, it is just not going to be the best we’ve ever had due to the drought.”

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Tour of the Georgia Museum of Agriculture

Image result for georgia museum of agWhile the Georgia Peanut Tour focuses on educating attendees about the quality of Georgia peanuts, the tour also brings together Southern hospitality and great food. This year is no exception! Tour attendees were able to step back into the 19th Century while touring the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historical Village and listening to the wise words of Mr. Frank McGill, former peanut agronomist at the University of Georgia and Georgia Peanut Hall of Farm. While at the museum, attendees were able to explore the farms, listen to the barnyard sounds, experience everyday 19th century-style life in the wiregrass village and learn more about the history of Georgia agriculture in the museum.

Friendly staff members share the history as they perform daily activities whether in farmhouses, fields, sawmill, turpentine still, schoolhouse, blacksmith’s shop, or the grist mill. Visitors can also stroll up the main street to the Feed and Seed store, the print shop and the drug store. During the tour, attendees were able to tour the original Victorian home of Tifton’s founder, Captain H. H. Tift. The Tift House was designed with curly pine molding, high ceilings, antique furnishings, and heart pine floors. It’s furnished with a wood burning cook stove, Victorian paintings, ornate wallpaper, and fine china.gma-images

Georgia’s Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village opened as the Agrirama on July 4, 1976. The grounds consist of five areas: a traditional farm community of the 1870s, an 1890s progressive farmstead, an industrial sites complex, rural town, national peanut complex, and the Museum of Agriculture Center. Over 35 structures have been relocated to the 95-acre site and faithfully restored or preserved. Costumed interpreters explain and demonstrate the life-style and activities of this time in Georgia’s history.

img_1428At the end of the evening, tour attendees were able to partake in the annual low country boil. This low country boil tradition has been sponsored by Dow AgroSciences for all 30 Georgia Peanut Tours. Supper was finished up with, of course, a variety of peanut butter flavored ice-creams.

View the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album.

2016 Peanut Crop Update from Scott Monfort, UGA Extension peanut agronomist

The 2016 peanut crop got off to one of the best starts we’ve had in the last several years. The UGA Peanut Team had high hopes that the potential of the crop would stay that way through the entire growing season; however, like always, mother nature tends to throw a curve ball and has caused some major situations to develop through the growing season- one of those being lack of rainfall. 50 percent of Georgia’s 2016 peanut crop is irrigated. If  looking at just the irrigated crop, the yield potential has maintained itself through the growing season and looks pretty good. “But, the non-irrigated is what we are worried about most,” says Scott Monfort, UGA Extension peanut agronomist. Non-irrigated peanuts have gone through most of the growing season without rainfall which has severely crippled the peanut crop in some areas where they have very little yield or none at all. That’s about 20 to 30 percent at the most of the non-irrigated crop, the rest of it can go from having a light yield to a very good yield depending on how much rain they received.

Currently with the 2016 Georgia Peanut Crop, “we are still trying to find out how much of the non-irrigated crop farmers will actually harvest and part of that will be determined by  how much of the non-irrigated crop has been affected by other issues like diseases and insects and how that might affect yield and quality,” Monfort states. Georgia has planted 770,000 acres of peanuts. “We are just going to have to wait as we begin this harvest to determine where we are at and what the average yields are going to be,” he adds. If you look on the National Ag Statistics website, they have Georgia listed as producing 4,600 pounds as the state average. Monfort says we are not going to make that. “We are going to be somewhere in between 3,600 and 4,100 pounds at the best for this year at the best. That has a lot of the industry worried now because we’ve had higher exports from peanuts last year and lower yields so we are wondering if we are going to have enough supply to meet the domestic demand going into next year,” Monfort adds.

View the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour album