After two full days of peanut education , peanut tour attendees were treated to a tasteful low- country boil and friendly fellowship at Quail Branch Lodge in Lake Park , Ga. sponsored by Dow AgroSciences,
Marvin Stewart, regional sales rep. with Dow AgroSciences, has attended all 27 peanut tours and has cooked for every year. Supper was finished up with three different kinds of ice cream samples including Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Chocolate with Peanut Butter swirls and Snickers ice cream.
Chris Butts, peanut tour committee chairman, recognized Emory Murphy, with the Georgia Peanut Commission and Dr. John Beasley, with the University of Georgia for attending all 27 tours. Murphy and Beasley will both be retiring at the end of this year. We would like to thank each of them for their hard work and dedication to the Georgia Peanut Tour. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!
After leaving R.L Cunningham’s, tour attendees loaded up and traveled south to Birdsong Peanuts in Lee, Fla. This Birdsong location is a direct buying point for the farmers. Attendees had the opportunity to view Birdsong’s grading room, moisture room and storage room at the site. This facility is able to dry 52 loads of peanuts at one time with dryers reaching 95 degrees.
Gerald Garland, manager of the Southeast Birdsong location, said they have only graded three days so far this season. Twenty loads are needed before the grading process can begin. Due to the 40 inches of rain Madison County received in June, peanut farmers are a little behind and peanut grading is expected to begin full-force in roughly two weeks. This Birdsong location is also the only location that owns a farm, as well as a buying point. The Birdsong farm in Lee, Fla., produced 1,500 acres of peanuts last year.
Carl Hobbs, a crop consultant, was also at this stop. Here he talked about his contracts with farmers in Florida, Georgia and the lower half of Alabama and South Carolina. With these states, he does periodic checks of soil sample work and looks for new methods to improve the health of peanut plants. Along with Hobbs, Heath Herndon talked about visiting fields to look at moisture and disease levels to decide how to treat plants for diseases.
Dan Fenneman, Madison County extension agent, updated tour attendees on peanut acreage in Madison County. There are roughly 7,600 acres of peanuts planted in Madison County. Peanuts are among one of the main crops planted in this county along with corn and soybeans. Peanuts in this area are mostly irrigated as opposed to dry land. Rain has been a major issue with peanut production this year, as well as a fairly cool season, which has led to an early harvest. Farmers are now beginning to face a dry spell. Between 3,200 and 3,400 tons per acre is expected to be yielded this upcoming season.
After lunch at the Brooks County Ag Center, tour participants made their way to R.L. Cunningham & Sons in Quitman, Ga. Just to give you a brief history on this organization, R.L. Cunningham & Sons began when (Robert) Cunningham, Sr. started shelling seed peanuts in 1942 in what was then known as the old mattress factory, located on Washington Street across the tracks from the railroad depot in Quitman. For 16 years, he shelled high quality seed peanuts, and then expanded the operation to include a peanut buying point complete with dryers, drying wagons and a 2,000 ton warehouse. Through the ’60s and ’70s, the operation continued to grow. So much that they added another warehouse, several more dryers and built a new peanut shelling plant.
Today, R.L. Cunningham & Sons has storage for 8,000 tons of peanuts. The operation includes semi drying trailers and state of the art drying equipment. A small grain cleaning and bagging facility serves area farmers with custom cleaning and storage. Still, at the heart of the company is the peanut seed sheller. This year, 2013, will mark 72 continuous years in the peanut seed shelling business.
While at this stop, Larry Cunningham and Chris Cunningham with , R.L. Cunningham & Sons, discussed their peanut shelling operation. Along with shelling, the process of peanut drying and the important role it plays in the shelling process (and ultimately in the quality of peanut seed) was covered. Something new for R.L. Cunningham to show off was their solar panel technology and an interactive website where producers can track their peanuts throughout the grading process from start to finish. Additionally, tour participants had the opportunity to see the facility as a buying point operation.
Stephanie Hollifield, Brooks County Extension Coordinator, provided information to the Georgia Peanut Tour participants on agricultural production in Brooks County. Hollifield stated peanuts were one of the most important crops in Brooks County. There were a total of 6,383 acres planted this year, with over 32 percent of the peanuts irrigated and over 67 percent dryland. Concerning the estimated peanut production in tons for the county, she says that county averages more than 4,000 lbs, with the yield potential for the 06G and 07W varieties at 5,000+ lbs. The major crops in Brooks County include cotton, peanuts, vegetables, pecans and peaches. Making timely applications of all crop inputs with excessive rainfall, including gypsum application and a necessary shorter spray interval between fungicide sprays, as well as the fact that the majority of peanuts were considered a high risk index on Peanut RX for the disease spray have been the most troublesome production issues for area farmers this year. However, Stephanie says that so far the peanut crop in the county looks good to excellent. The profiles that have been conducted this year look great and they are progressing nicely. As Hollifield said, “they’re cooking in the ground.”
During our time in Brooks County, attendees had the opportunity to visit the family farm of Mr. John Burton. Here they were able to see first-hand, the process of digging peanuts. Burton demonstrated peanut digging on a field planted on May 7. Attendees were able to watch how the peanuts are dug and turned over, and then take a closer look at them above ground.
Van Murphy, representative with BCT Gin, was also present at the farm stop. BCT Gin is owned by peanut and cotton farmers in Brooks, Colquitt and Thomas Counties. Murphy commended the farmers for their work and thanked the guests of the Georgia Peanut Tour for making Brooks County one of their stops. After getting the opportunity to look at some great peanuts, tour attendees loaded back up in the bus and headed to the Brooks County Ag Center for lunch.
After leaving DuPont’s facility, the Peanut Tour caravan headed to the north side of Lowndes County for a local farm stop. Jake Price, Lowndes County extension agent, provided information to the Georgia Peanut Tour participants on agricultural production in Lowndes County. Lowndes County major crops are cotton, corn, peanuts, tobacco and soybeans. The south end of the county grows primarily vegetables. Price said urban agriculture has grown recently with more nurseries and golf courses becoming popular. When looking at irrigation and dryland, Price said peanuts and cotton are mostly dryland and corn and tobacco are mostly irrigated. For peanuts, Lowndes County grows mostly Georgia 06 and Florida 07 varieties. This year’s major issue has been the large amount of rainfall the county has received. In past years, the burrower bug has been a problem, but this year it has not been as troublesome. Farmers in Lowndes County have started digging and Price said he expects most fields to yield well with approximately 4,500-6000 lbs per acre.
While at this stop, attendees had the opportunity to see one of Lowndes County’s peanut fields that has struggled with the amount of rainfall received this year. See the photo above. The field is farmed by Wes Shannon, Georgia Peanut Commission advisory board member, and his son. Check out the video clip below of Wes and his son discussing the Georgia Greeners planted in this field.
To begin the second day of the 2013 Georgia Peanut Tour, attendees arrived at the DuPont Crop Protection facility in Valdosta, Ga. This particular facility produces crop protection materials such as fungicides for application on peanuts. The tour began in DuPont’s shipping and receiving area where ingredients are brought into the plant and finished products are shipped out. From there, attendees were able to visit the area of the plant where liquid formulation of fungicide takes place. At this particular DuPont plant, the fungicide Fontelis is manufactured. In the formulation room, dry ingredients are added to liquid ingredients and then milled and charged in large tanks. From there, the product travels through pipes to the packaging room where jugs are filled and labeled. In this room, it takes 45 seconds for the machines to fill three cycles worth of jugs. One cycle equals 6 jugs, so that means 18 jugs are filled in 45 seconds. Pretty impressive! To fill 180 gallons (approximately 72 jugs) and send them through packaging, it takes approximately 15 minutes. Employees are able to rely on precise ergonomic equipment that is being used throughout the formulation and packaging process to ensure accuracy and quality. Speaking of quality, DuPont prides itself on several ethical codes; two of them being quality and safety. Quality control and analysis is monitored throughout the entire production process. This includes formulation of the product and packaging of the product. As for safety, DuPont believes safety is important for not only customers of their product, but also for their employees working at the plant.
Peanut Tour attendees wrapped up the first day of the tour tonight with some of the South’s finest traditions as they licked their fingers and sipped on sweet tea from Carter’s Catfish House in Adel, Ga. Carter’s Catfish House is locally-owned by Matt Carter who is known for his restaurant’s hospitality.
Albert Culbreath, with the University of Georgia, treated us all to some good ol’ pickin’ & grinnin’ before we sat down for supper. Attendees gathered around Culbreath to listen to him play the banjo on the front porch of the Catfish House as they casually drank and socialized.
Attendee’s were treated to fried chicken, fried catfish, home-style mashed potatoes, green beans… and of course grits. Wait, what’s a full supper without dessert? Supper was followed-up with some desserts that will make you go “nuts!” Mouthwatering peanut butter pie and nutter butter banana pudding was the talk of the night. After winding down from well-spent evening with good food, attendees will be gearing up for day 2 of the tour tomorrow morning at stop No. 1: DuPont.
Peanut season is the busiest time of year for everyone at Georgia Federal- State Inspection Services. Farmers are in demand to have their peanuts graded in time for market. Georgia FSIS inspects over 35 comedies, peanuts being the largest. Peanut Tour attendees had the opportunity to see how the Farmers’ Stock grading procedures work, view grading equipment and the grading process. Teresa Cox, supervisor of District 12, talked about the grade room procedures and the process for grading inspection for peanut seeds. She began by saying once they they obtain their peanut samples, peanuts are first poured onto a grader, which requires a minimum of 1,500 grams of peanuts. The peanuts then go into a foreign material machine which separates foreign material and LSK (lose shelled kernels). From this point, peanuts are taken from the scales to a pre-sizer, to a sheller and then to a moisture machine. Once the moisture machine has 250 grams, peanuts are then transported to a shaker to get rid of splits or immature kernels. They are then poured into a pan and hand-picked for anything that may have been missed before going through the splitter where they check for concealed damage and Aspergillus flavus mold.
Also at this stop, tour attendees got the chance to visit the Georgia Department of Agricultural Lab in Tifton, where they focused on the seed, fertilizer and feed section. This section administers the rules and regulations related to seeds, fertilizer and feeds by regulating labeling and quality standards for items for sale in Georgia. Mark McMillan, a representative with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, specifically focused on the feed and fertilizer of the tour where he talked about sulfur tests and Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP), which are tests that determine which elements are in the fertilizers and which are absent. Scott Hobby, representative with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, talked more about the seed portion of the lab. The Georgia Department of Agriculture seed lab tests over 20,000 seeds annually, with 12,000 of them being peanut samples. Farmers have the ability to send seeds to the Department of Agriculture lab and have their seeds tested free of charge. Dee-Dee Smith, a seed analyst, then went over the daily routines of a a seed analyst who separates seed to make labes to go on seed bags before administered to the public. Seeds are separated into kind and variety before sold.
Dr. John Beasley with the University of Georgbia also treated tourist to HOT boiled peanuts donated by Albert Culbreath while they listened to him discuss the differences in the four main variates of peanuts and how to determine maturity in peanuts using a Peanut Profile Board. 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. Dr. Beasley also discussed the hull-scrape method and other ways to determine the maturity of peanuts and when they are ready to harvest.
After leaving the University of Georgia’s Gibbs Research Farm, the Peanut Tour caravan headed over to Kelley Manufacturing Co. in Tifton. Kelley Manufacturing Co. is the industry’s leader in developing top-quality peanut harvesting equipment. They have significantly impacted the peanut industry through providing state-of-the-art equipment. KMC employs some of the top engineers and specialists in the manufacturing process with over 180 employees. All products are built in-house at the manufacturing facility located in Tifton, Ga. Each piece of equipment is designed with the farmer’s needs in mind, ensuring a top quality implement that will produce top quality results. During the KMC stop, peanut tour attendees were able to hear more about the history of KMC, participate in a tour of the plant showcasing how the equipment is manufactured, as well as a hands-on tour of peanut equipment! Check out the video below of equipment parts receiving a fresh coat of paint!
Georgia Peanut Tour attendees were able to see some of the ongoing research being conducted at the University of Georgia’s Gibbs Research Farm in Tifton, Ga., on the second stop of the tour. The Gibbs Research Farm is one of the many research farms in Georgia where peanut research takes place. During the stop, attendees were able to hear first-hand where research dollars are being spent and some of the latest research that is being carried out at the Gibbs Farm. Discussion of current issues affecting Georgia’s peanut production, such as the affects of the large amount of rainfall Georgia has received over the last several months and how it may affect crop yield, disease management and pest management were covered. All topics during this stop included discussion of planting, harvesting and crop development by Dr. John Beasley; nematode management and early season fungicide application by Dr. Bob Kemerait; information on the USDA-ARS breeding program by Dr. Corley Holbrook; peanut insect management research by Dr. Mark Abney; weed science and nutsedge issues in peanuts by Dr. Timothy Grey; foliar diseases in peanuts by Dr. Albert Culbreath; thrips and transmission of tomato spotted wilt virus by Dr. Babu Srinivasan; and peanut agronomic research by Dr. Scott Tubbs.
Attendees also had the opportunity try some of Tyron Spearman’s famous grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the Gibbs Farm stop. Tyron is with the National Peanut Buying Points Association and usually has the chance to share some of his grilled pb&js each year on the tour. According to Tyron, the key to making a great grilled pb&j is to mix your peanut butter and jelly before spreading it on your bread. Definitely a great twist on the original peanut butter and jelly sandwich!