Mark Abney, University of Georgia research and extension peanut entomologist, says growers have faced a number of insect issues this year but nothing too severe. Farmers have had moderate to heavy thrips pressure, as well as pressure from three-cornered alfalfa hopper and foliage feeding caterpillars.
In his research trials, Abney is studying threshold development projects with thrips and three-cornered alfalfa hopper. In the research trial studying thrips, Abney is looking at thrips feeding damage to determine if farmers need to use supplemental foliar sprays in addition to use of at-plant insecticides. Abney is also looking to develop economic thresholds for three-cornered alfalfa hopper so growers will know when and if they need to treat for that pest.
Extension plant pathologist with the University of Georgia conducts many research trials focusing on diseases of peanuts. “My research is very much applied and it has to be something that farmers are likely to use,” Kemerait says. “White mold has been the major focus of my research. We have some new and exciting products that have just been labeled for farmers.”
Kemerait is exploring the new products available for farmers and using older products in reduced input ways to try to manage diseases like white mold. Kemerait says, at the same time we are managing white mold we also have to make sure we are managing other diseases like defoliation from peanut leaf spot.
“I believe 2015 will be a year remembered by growers as the year of severe white mold,” Kemerait says. Most growers have struggled at times to manage the disease, even those that have used effective fungicide program. According to Kemerait, we have had a very warm year but the warm temperatures have made the disease like white mold very difficult to manage.
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) has become hard to manage this year as well for growers. According to Kemerait, TSWV has basically been non-existent through the years of 2006 to 2008. Since 2013, Kemerait has noticed a slow and steady increase of TSWV. Unfortunately, there is not much farmers can do about the disease except for using the UGA peanut disease risk index and plant more resistant varieties.
The Attapulgus Research and Education Center is located in the deep southwest corner of Georgia near the town of Attapulgus, Georgia, about 5 miles north of the Florida line. The warm, humid climate is ideal for major agricultural insect, weed, nematode and disease problems. This provides a unique place for UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers to conduct studies in a controlled atmosphere to help farmers economically and environmentally deal with these challenges and to screen new crop varieties with pest resistance.
Farmers in this region grow many crops. The research here reflects that diversity. Researchers and staff work with peanuts, corn, cotton, soybeans, peaches, peppers, squash, sweet corn, snap beans and watermelons.
The center was originally the Shade Tobacco Experiment Station, established in 1939 to help the region’s many shade tobacco farmers at the time. It operated under the Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton, Georgia. In the 1950s, the Campbell Soup Company Research Farm in nearby Climax, Georgia, was interested in growing okra and other horticultural crops and requested that such research be conducted on the station. The station continued to assist shade tobacco farmers, too, until cheaper labor drew the industry to South America in the early 1970s.
In 1974, with the shade tobacco industry gone from Georgia, the name was changed to the Extension-Research Center. The new center helped the former shade tobacco farmers learn to grow vegetable crops. In 1990, it was named the Attapulgus Research Farm. It later became the research and education center it is today.
Andy Bell, peanut grower from Decatur County, speaking to attendees about Bell Farms.
Wednesday morning kicked off with the first stop of the 2015 Georgia Peanut Tour at Bell Farms in Climax, Georgia. Andy Bell and his brother Buster have been farming together for more than 30 years. Bell and his brother raise cattle and grow approximately 900 acres of peanuts, 1,100-1,200 acres of cotton and 200 acres of corn and silage in Decatur County. Of their peanuts, approximately 800 acres are GA-06G, 60 acres are Tiff Guard and 45 acres are Florida 107, a high oleic variety.
During the morning visit, Bell showed attendees a field of GA-06Gs and discussed how he manages the field. “These particular peanuts have been sprayed three times with Provost and one time with Headline,” Bell said. “They are about 125 days old; not quite ready to dig.” The maturity range for GA-06G is approximately 135-145 days after planting, depending on the weather. He also mentioned how there is no hand-weeding in the field. Even though Bell and his family spray their field throughout the growing season, a lot of their herbicides are put into place at the time of planting.
Bell went on to discuss his family’s use of GPS technology on their equipment. “All of our crops are managed with GPS and we really feel like that saves us money on gathering, planting and spraying; it just makes everything work a lot better when you have a straight row…It’s a really good system and it works well.” The GPS technology steers the tractor down to within a couple of inches accuracy. This type of tool can cost growers approximately $30,000, depending on the model. Bell and his family run two, six-row diggers. During harvest, they normally start early in the morning with digging and pick all afternoon. They have family members hauling peanuts and drying them, as well.
GA-06Gs 125 days after planting.
According to Bell, the field size varies across the county. “Typically, on this side of the county, the field size is smaller. This particular field is a 30 acre, irrigated field. Our largest irrigated peanut field is about 115 acres. The land on this side of the river just doesn’t lay well enough to have larger fields.”
Dr. Bob Kemerait, UGA plant pathologist, pointed out how well Bell Farms’ looked and commended him for his practices. He discussed how a field that looks as good as Bell Farms’ is not easy to achieve; it is difficult. Education and innovation of Georgia’s peanut growers, as well as cooperation with UGA Extension is also important in helping Georgia farmers grow the highest quality peanuts.
Dr. Scott Monfort, UGA peanut agronomist, pointed out how expensive it is for Georgia peanut farmers. “We’re getting to bigger and bigger equipment, more technology; and that’s more expense. This is probably a couple hundred thousand dollars’ worth of equipment sitting right here, and that’s not to mention he’s probably got several of these that he runs on 800 acres.” He commented on how the industry is appreciative of Georgia growers and the long hours and money they invest to grow a quality crop.
When asked questions from tour attendees, Bell said he and his brother do not typically plant cover crops; however, on dry years, they will bale peanut hay and feed it to their cattle. When selecting varieties to plant, nematodes are the key influencer. “If it’s dryland, we plant Tiff Guard, which has resistance to nematodes.” For a variety like GA-06G, Bell says approximately four gallons of Telone, used for nematode control, is put out in the row and peanuts are planted right behind it. The selection of Florida 107 for planting was market driven because of the high oleic trait. For those who are unfamiliar, high oleic is related to the ratio of linoleic acid in the peanut. It allows the peanut to have a longer shelf-life, making it more desirable to food manufacturers. When asked about rotation, Bell mentioned cotton and corn as rotational crops. “Typically our rotation is two years of cotton and/or corn, or corn silage and one year of peanuts. Sometimes it can be more or less depending on the situation.”
Dr. Scott Monfort, UGA peanut agronomist, speaking to tour attendees.
To conclude the tour stop, Dr. Monfort, Dr. Kemerait and Bell discussed the expected yield of the presented field. “They [peanuts] could be between two and three tons per acre, it just depends on how mature they are,” Monfort said. Kemerait added, “If he makes three tons out here and right now the price is about $400/ton, he makes $1,200.” When asked about how much he spends per acre, Bell replied “roughly $900-$1,000 an acre…it’s our highest dollar crop and irrigated peanuts would be hard to grow for less than $900 per acre…if we make two tons out here, we will break even.” Kemerait pointed out how it is not easy or always profitable to be a peanut farmer.
According to Brian Hayes, UGA extension agent, Decatur County has a farm gate value of $200+ million annually and farms between 25,000-28,000 acres of peanuts historically; however, in 2015, there have been approximately 35,000 acres of peanuts planted throughout the county.
To view a digging demonstration at Bell Farms, view the video below.
Welcome to Thomas County, Georgia, the host city of the 2015 Georgia Peanut Tour. Thomas County is located in South Central Georgia and known for its big oak trees, prosperous agriculture and thriving industries. Thomas County was created in 1825 from portions of Decatur and Irwin counties. Georgia’s 63rd county, and its county seat, Thomasville, were named for a hero of the War of 1812, General Jett Thomas. Thomasville is known for its annual Rose Festival; for the “Big Oak,” which has a limb spread of 175 feet; and for the McKinley Memorial Tree planted in 1896 as a salute to candidate William McKinley, who became the 25th President of the United States. Thomasville was a popular, turn-of-the-century, winter resort for wealthy northern families. Non-residents still maintain many large estates and hunting preserves. Many of these estates are listed on the National Register of Historic Places including the Susina Plantation Inn and the Lapham-Patterson House.
Since Thomasville is known for its history, then it was only fitting to hold one of the meals on the tour at the oldest restaurant in the state of Georgia – The Plaza Restaurant. Established in 1916, The Plaza has been the restaurant generations of southwest Georgians have come to for fabulous meals, celebrate special occasions, break bread with elected officials, or just enjoy the company of family and loved ones. Over the years The Plaza has had a variety of owners, most of whom were of Greek heritage. In 2007 a new era for The Plaza began when it was purchased from George Mathes, Andrew Poulos, and Angelo Mathes by Michael Regina, a visionary restauranteur and chef. Born in Manhattan and raised in upstate New York, Michael Regina owned and operated restaurants in New York from 1984 to 1998. Since coming to Thomasville it has been his mission to make The Plaza an even greater restaurant.
During the meal, Andrew Sawyer, University of Georgia Thomas County Extension agent, provided an overview of agriculture in the county. According to Sawyer, the top commodities in Thomas County include cotton (30,000 acres), peanuts (9,000 acres) and pecans (2,800 acres of orchards). There is also 200,000 acres of forest land. Agriculture is the number one business in the county which is also known for its plantations. The majority of acreage in Thomas County is dryland and farmers have struggled with white mold and tomato spotted wilt virus this year. To continue learning more about Thomas County agriculture visit Sawyer’s blog at www.thomascountyag.com.
The 2015 Hot Topics Seminar focused this year on peanut processing and utilization. During the seminar, Dr. Kirk Kealey provided an overview of the University of Georgia Food Product Innovation & Commercialization Center (FoodPIC). FoodPIC assists companies in developing new food products efficiently and economically. The center facilitates commercialization of food products by providing intellectual resources and physical facilities for both start-up ventures and existing food companies. FoodPIC was initiated by faculty in the Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and associates of the University of Georgia. All are internationally recognized for development of innovative food products. The center is located in Griffin, Georgia, on the UGA Griffin Campus. It is approximately 30 miles south of the Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta Airport.
In addition to learning about FoodPIC, additional food scientists Dr. Koushik Adhikari, Dr. Yen-Con Hung, Dr. Dick Phillips and Dr. Jinru Chen provided information on consumer and sensory evaluation, peanut flour and oil, and probiotics in peanut butter. According to Dr. Adhikari, runner peanuts have been the dominant peanut type since 1979. The runner type of peanuts are grown primarily in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. The runner type of peanuts accounts for approximately 80 percent of the peanuts grown in the U.S. and mainly used for processing peanut butter. The runner type is also very poplar due to its good flavor and roasting characteristics especially for peanut butter.
The Georgia peanut crop looks very pretty good overall says Scott Monfort, University of Georgia peanut agronomist, during the Georgia Peanut Tour Hot Topics Seminar. More than likely our state average yield for this year will be approximately 4,300 lbs. per acre which is roughly 200 lbs. off of record yields recorded in 2012. Part of the reasons for a slight decline in yield is due to weather conditions – some areas had drought conditions, some had adequate rain and some had ideal weather so there will be a large discrepancy across the state on how good the crop looks. Many farmers are beginning to dig the early planted peanuts with a small percentage of acres being dug early due to disease. With 771,000 acres in the state, some farmers planted peanuts behind peanuts and that has caused an increase in some diseases and a potential decline in yields.
Peanuts are a very big crop for a lot of growers in the state of Georgia, especially the Southwest corner of the state, Monfort says. Growers in this historical peanut growing area produce some of the highest yields in the state. The tour will visit farmers in Grady, Decatur and Miller County to learn more about issues farmers face, how peanuts are harvested and more.
The 29th Annual Georgia Peanut Tour is ready to kick off today at the Rose City Conference Center in Thomasville, Georgia with the Hot Topics Seminar. The three-day event showcases all aspects of peanut production from the farm to peanut processing facilities. This year we are proud to have participants from 13 states and two countries on the tour. We are excited to have you travel with us as we visit various sites to learn more about the effort, care and even passion invested in producing the world’s finest peanuts! We sincerely appreciate each of you for joining us on this exciting tour that will introduce you to the peanut industry in Georgia, and hope through the experience of this tour, you will understand and appreciate the heritage of peanut production in our state. Each of us engaged in the peanut industry – farmers, buyers, processors, researchers, extension personnel, Georgia Peanut Commission representatives and everyone in between, are proud Georgia is the leading peanut producer in the United States, and we couldn’t be more excited you are joining us for the next three days!
The twenty-ninth annual Georgia Peanut Tour will be held September 15-17, 2015, and located out of Southwest Georgia at the Best Western Rose City Conference Center Inn, Thomasville, Georgia. The tour brings the latest information on peanuts while giving a first-hand view of industry infrastructure from production and handling to processing and utilization. Tour stops will be made in several peanut producing counties including Thomas, Grady, Decatur, Seminole and Early County.
The tour kicks off this year with the Hot Topics Seminar on Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. at the Best Western Rose City Conference Center Inn, Thomasville, Georgia. The seminar topics include an update on the 2015 Georgia peanut crop, a Washington legislative update and consumer peanut information including peanut flour and oil as well as probiotics in peanut butter.
The Georgia Peanut Commission, University of Georgia-Tifton Campus and Griffin Campus, Southwest Research & Education Center, Attapulgus Research & Education Center, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service National Peanut Research Lab coordinate the tour.
Hotel accommodations can be made at the Best Western in Thomasville, Georgia, by calling 229-226-9998. Rooms are available at the rate of $101 for a single/double room and $115 for a suite. Once the Best Western is full, additional hotel accommodations can be made at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites by calling 229-226-4666. Be sure to ask for the Georgia Peanut Tour room block.