Proper Peanut Rotations Can Have Positive Impact on Yields

As a research agronomist for the University of Georgia, Dr. Scott Tubbs conducts research in a lot of different areas and during the 2018 Georgia Peanut Tour Dr. Tubbs had an opportunity to present his research to the tour attendees. Some of that relates to cropping systems with rotations of peanuts and other crops. Farmers may have more success growing peanuts if they don’t continuously plant peanuts in the same field, and that is the message Dr. Tubbs is wanting to convey. Other crops that rotate very well with peanuts include corn and cotton and there’s about a million plus acres of cotton any given year, anywhere between 250,000 300,000 acres of corn any given year and this is about twice as much acreage as what we have in peanuts. “With a rotation on peanuts we usually recommend three years rotation, two years out of peanuts before we go back into peanuts the third year. The acreage of these rotation crops allows this except when we increase acreage of peanuts and decrease acreage of these other crops. It does put our rotation under pressure for shorter rotations which can cause additional disease and pest problems with weeds and insects as well”, says Dr. Tubbs. Peanuts do rotate well with other crops since it is a legume. Peanuts have a lot of nitrogen they can supply to other crops that are usually fertilized with nitrogen so peanuts are a good scavenger of nutrients by pulling those nutrients from deep in the soil profile by bringing those back to the surface.

“Once the peanut is harvested the remaining residue of peanut is left on the ground and will disintegrate and provide nutrients to the subsequent crops that are planted behind peanuts,” he continues. “Some of the research I am conducting this year include replant decisions for peanut and populations including gap situations where we force a stand gap where there are no plants growing just to assess the yield drag from having no populations in the field. We also conduct research on inoculants, different formulations and their interactions with other in furrow products that are placed in ground at planting. This year we initiated some trials on physical damage to peanuts to simulate hail damage or deer damage to peanuts and we are assessing different levels of damage by different timings of the crop just to assess how yield and grade will be affected at the end of season with these different damage levels with different timing.”

For more information on crop rotation, visit the UGA Extension publications by clicking here.

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Tour attendees hear from Dr. Scott Monfort at the Southeast Research and Education Center

Scott Monfort, peanut agronomist with  the University of Georgia  is one on many researchers conducting research at the Southeast Research and Education Center in Midville, Georgia. At this particular research station here in east Georgia, Dr. Monfort conduct several different types of research trials. Two of the biggest ones he conducts here are cultivar or variety trial along with 10 different tillage trials. “We are growing those or conducting those for two different reasons,” he says. “One, we want to try to keep ahead as far as the information going out to the growers on any new varieties or production practices. The second thing is, we try to answer questions that the growers have.”

In this particular part of Georgia, tillage is a big problem for these growers because they have highly erodible soils. “What we try to do is look at the conventional tillage which most of Georgia does to produce peanuts compared to reduced tillage which a lot of growers in this area conduct. We are trying to make these comparisons to show these growers where they can save money but where they have to spend money to be productive. As far as the varieties, it’s the same thing. We try to showcase different varieties that are coming out that might do better in this region because it’s a different micro-climate there than it is in south west Georgia or other parts of Georgia where peanuts are grown. We try to look at what we can do to increase productivity of any grower throughout the state of Georgia and this area is important just like the southwest part of Georgia is. So, we try to do as much as we can for each grower throughout the state and all the research done here is looking at localized situations or trying to fix localized problems to increase productivity”, he continues. The Southeast Research and Education Center in Midville is one of many research facilities where UGA researchers conduct peanut research throughout the state of Georgia. There are research centers all over the state, but they do not produce peanuts at every single one, but peanuts are produced at a majority of the ones in the south.

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Peanut Entomology Update from Dr. Mark Abney

Dr. Mark Abney, research and Extension peanut entomologist at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus gave an entomology update at the UGA Southeast Research and Education Center. At this location, Dr. Abney said they have a research trial looking at different materials for managing thrips. Thrips are an early season seedling pest, but they remain a concern throughout the growing season. They cause damage to the plant by feeding on it and by spreading Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. The research he is conducting in Midville will allow him to make recommendations to growers for how to best manage thrips on their farm.

For the 2018 crop year, thrip pressure has varied across the state. Some areas have seen very little pressure, while others have had moderate to heavy pressure, as well as higher levels of TSWV. Overall, Dr. Abney thinks virus levels are lower than they were in 2017; however, it is still there and needs to be managed.

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Another major insect affecting peanuts that Dr. Abney studies is the burrow bug. The burrow bug is a stink bug that lives in the ground. It feeds on the developing peanut pod inside the shell and causes grade loss for farmers when they sell their peanuts at a buying point. This grade loss equates to financial loss for the farmer. The insect is difficult to manage; however, Dr. Abney has a few ways to monitor and control them. He is working to understand the biology of the insect better, as well as looking at potential products to use to control it. Currently, there is only one insecticide available to control the burrower bug and it is slated for cancellation by the Environmental Protection Agency, so research is being done to find another alternative product. Another soil insect pest Dr. Abney studies is the southern corn root worm. It’s not a big problem for most growers in Georgia; however, it’s an insect that likes wet weather, so during raining growing seasons, it can be seen. It is also managed with the same product used on burrower bugs, so an alternative management product is needed for it as well.

Dr. Abney said insect management is really important for peanut growers even though it’s not typically something they think about when managing their production practices. He and his colleagues continue to work to find more tools for Georgia peanut farmers’ tool belts so they can better manage insect pressure on their farms and continue to grow quality Georgia peanuts.

To follow entomology updates, visit the UGA Peanut Entomology Blog.

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Peanut Disease Update from Dr. Bob Kemerait

While at the University of Georgia’s Southeast Georgia Research & Education Center, tour attendees were given a disease update from Dr. Bob Kemerait, Extension plant pathologist at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus. Kemerait said diseases are one of the biggest problems for peanut production in Georgia and many are caused by viruses, fungi and nematodes. At the research and education center in Midville, Dr. Kemerait and others are working to learn more about managing diseases in peanuts and giving that information to the farmer to help him grow a better crop. He said the research he is doing is two-fold; one to find an integrated management system for how to manage a virus and two, to do trials and experiments to evaluate what is available in terms of varieties and fungicides that can help growers better manage diseases.

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Dr. Bob Kemerait showing tour attendees what TSWV looks like on peanuts.

One disease Dr. Kemerait and his colleagues focus on frequently is Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV). According to Kemerait, TSWV is one of the most devasting diseases affecting peanuts. With his research, he is working to understand the relationship between the disease and the vector that spreads the disease, which is a small pest called a thrip. By understanding the relationship, he can create models to predict how many thrips would be in the field and how to best manage the spread of the disease. Dr. Kemerait also studies how other factors affect TSWV such as variety, use of in-furrow insecticide and planting date.

Another aspect of his research is the use of fungicides for disease control. Diseases such as leaf spot and white mold can take millions of dollars to control; however, Kemerait says if they are not managed properly, they could cost tens of millions of dollars in yield reduction from the peanut crop. Kemerait says if growers want to remain profitable, they know they have to fight diseases by taking the research produced at the University of Georgia and integrating it into their production practice, as well as being “upfront” about prevention.

Peanut Research at Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center

2018_gpt_savannah_0345sThe Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center lies in the upper Coastal Plain near Midville, Georgia. Just south of the fall line, the 719-acre center was established in 1952, when Burke County deeded the land to the University System Board of Regents.

Orien L. Brooks served as the first superintendent and remained so until his death in 1978. Charles Perry was the second superintendent and now Anthony Black holds the title.

Originally concentrating on chicken, beef cattle and dairy research, today the facility’s efforts are focused on row crop research. Peanuts, soybeans, alfalfa, corn, cotton, sorghum and potential biofuel crops are studied.

Variety testing, pest management strategies, fertilizer application rates, seeding rates and disease management research programs are also in place. The center is the only UGA research location where UGA scientists study cylindrocladium black rot, a fungal disease first found in 1965 on peanuts in southwest Georgia. Today, CBR plagues alfalfa, clover and soybean as well.

Four full-time employees maintain research projects for UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers conducting research at Midville. During the 2018 Georgia Peanut Tour attendees were able to see the on-going research projects involving peanuts.

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Peanuts are a Passion for Cromley Brothers

The final day of the Georgia Peanut Tour began at one of Bulloch County’s largest farming operations, the farm of Charley and Lee Cromley. The Cromley brothers are fifth generation farmers who grow approximately 2,600 acres of row crops. This year, 1,800 acres were planted in cotton and 800 acres were planted in peanuts. When discussing the current crop, Lee said their biggest challenges this year have been weed and disease control. The large amount of rainfall during the growing season has made it difficult to get tractors in the field to manage these two pests.

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The Cromley brothers’ production practices include a good rotation of cotton and peanuts, application of Elatus for leaf spot control, Valor and Cadre for weed control, and practicing strip tillage. Strip tillage allows them to turn the dirt less, which keeps necessary nutrients and moisture in the soil for the crop. They also plant a cover crop and leave the previous year’s cotton stubble in the ground prior to planting peanuts each year.

Harvest season has commenced, so while at their farm, tour attendees got to see peanuts being dug. Here, the tractor pulls an implement called a peanut digger. This machine digs the peanuts, shakes the dirt off and inverts them upside down so the peanuts are exposed to the sun and the vines are on the ground. Lee said they can dig approximately 60 acres per day with two machines going. After they are dug, the peanuts are left on the ground to dry for approximately three days and then later harvested with a combine, which is a machine that “picks” the peanuts off the vine. Last year, the Cromley brothers harvested approximately 5,000 lbs/acre on their peanut crop. This year, they are expecting to harvest around 4,000 lbs/acre.

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During the visit, Lee also pointed all the importance of peanuts to the economy; especially rural South Georgia. Agriculture makes up 10 percent of Bulloch County’s budget according to Bill Tyson, Bulloch County Extension agent. Peanuts are Georgia’s official state crop and generate approximately $2.2 billion annually to the state’s economy. They are grown in nearly half of Georgia’s counties where they account for nearly 50 percent of the peanuts grown in the United States.

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According to Tyson, the 2018 peanut crop is looking good in his area of the state. The Bulloch County area started off the season wet, with a slow start, followed by cooler temperatures in May. Due to the changes in the weather pattern, much of the crop is spread out in regard to planting dates. Like many other areas, the abundant rainfall has created more disease issues than normal, as well. The farmers in the county grow approximately 75,000 acres of peanuts and cotton; however, they also grow corn, soybeans and small grain. Most of the land in Bulloch County is dryland with approximately 25 percent irrigated.

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Take a Step Back in Time at Old Fort Jackson

Old Fort Jackson a restored 19th-century fort, was the last tour stop of day 2. This  fortification is located on the Savannah River, just 3 miles east of the city. It was constructed in 1808 as part of President Thomas Jefferson’s Second System coastal defense initiative and named after Revolutionary War patriot James Jackson. This brick fort was constructed over an old earthen battery from the Revolutionary War which had been called “Mud Fort.” Soldiers were stationed at Fort James Jackson to guard Savannah during the War of 1812. Following the War of 1812, two periods of construction continued expansion of the fort from the 1840s-1850s, prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War.ofj1

Local Confederate militia units occupied the fort at the start of the Civil War in 1861. In 1862, it became the headquarters for Savannah’s river defenses after the fall of Fort Pulaski. In 1864 the Confederate troops quickly evacuated Fort Jackson just prior to the arrival of federal troops under the leadership of General William Tecumesh Sherman after his infamous “March to the Sea,” leaving Fort Jackson under control of federal troops. The last American soldiers to be stationed at Fort Jackson were members of the 55th Massachusetts, an African- American unit of the Federal Army.

The War Department abandoned the fort in 1905 and the state of Georgia reopened it in 1965 as a maritime museum. After the state decided to close the museum in 1975, the newly formed nonprofit Coastal Heritage Society approached the State in 1976 asking permission to re-open and operate the site, which was granted. The historic site was now referred to as Old Fort Jackson. In 1978, Fort Jackson and CHS came under the leadership of Scott W. Smith. Operation continued to grow with modest success as did development of educational programming for regular guests and student field trips.

Currently, Old Fort Jackson has a successful model of independent operation and a solid reputation of delivering high-quality, engaging educational programming for booked groups. This program offering has been expanded to regular operation for daily museum guests and includes cannon, musket firings and other interactive & hands-on activities.ofj2

 

While at this stop, tour attendees had the chance to try steamed oysters and for many this was a first and highlight of the tour, for others, they were just happy with the sunset view they caught on the way out to load the buses. After the oysters and the tour of the fort, attendees had the opportunity to enjoy great southern cooking of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and dressing. ofj3

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Port of Savannah: The Southeast Gateway for the U.S.

After seeing peanuts harvested on the farm, tour attendees traveled to Savannah to tour the Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City Terminal. The Garden City Terminal is the largest single-terminal in North America and serves 20 percent of the United States population and industry. The facility is 1,200 acres and offers nine container berths comprised of nearly 10,000 ft of contiguous space. The terminal is also home to 30 container cranes; the largest on the East Coast.

According to the American Peanut Council (APC), the U.S. is the third largest peanut producer after China and India, and is the leading peanut exporter with an average annual export of 200,000 to 250,000 metric tons. Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan account for more than 80 percent of U.S. exports. The largest export markets within Europe are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain.

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Lee Beckmann, manager for government affairs for GPA, visited with the tour attendees during Hot Topics on Tuesday and gave an overview of current port projects. One key project is the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Here, the harbor is being dredged to 47 feet to better accommodate vessels. The vessels being used now are 14,000 TEUs – the largest on the East Coast. Currently the channel depth is 42 ft and the project is 50 percent complete. Another major project in the works is the Mason Mega Rail Project. This will end up being the largest intermodal yard for a terminal in the U.S. Currently, phase one is expected to be completed by September 2019 with the first bundle of tracks operational. Phase two is expected to be completed by September 2020.

The Garden City Terminal sees an average of 10,000 truck transactions per day. For single moves, trucks average 33 minutes and for doubles they average 53 minutes. When it comes to the containers they are transporting, the terminal houses 25,000 loaded containers and 35,000 empty containers. Nearly 55 percent of the containers are for imports and 45 percent of exports.

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According to GPA, it received its second busiest month on record for containerized trade in July 2018. This was a 12.7 percent increase compared to July 2017. GPA also said rail cargo at the Garden City Terminal increased by 16 percent (60,000 containers) for a total of 435,000 rail lifts between July 2017 and June 2018. This increase in capacity is a driving force behind making Savannah an even more competitive port option on the East Coast.

When looking at Georgia’s economy, GPA says the logistics industry, including the port, provide a boost to Georgia’s economy. For GPA alone, the following statistics relate to the state of Georgia:

  • 440,000 full and part time jobs
  • $106 billion in sales (11 percent of total sales)
  • $44 billion in state GDP (8 percent of total GDP)
  • $25 billion in income (6 percent of total personal income)
  • $5.9 billion in federal taxes
  • $1.4 billion in state taxes
  • $1.5 billion in local taxes

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Like Father, Like Son on Joe Boddiford Farms

The first farm visit on the Georgia Peanut Tour was Joe Boddiford’s Farms. The farm is operated by Joe and his son Knapp. Joe, a third-generation farmer, has been farming for over 45 years and serves on the Georgia Peanut Commission Board. During this farm stop, Joe showed tour attendees an array of tractors used on their farm including an old 1965 3010 John Deere which Joe has actually owned twice. The tractor was bought new by Joe’s father and was what Joe start farming with until he decided to sell it in the 90s.  Ten years or so later, Joe was at a tractor sale in South Carolina and said, “That’s my tractor!” Of course, Joe paid more for it than what he sold it for, but it was well worth it.kb2

Joe’s son, Knapp, is a recent graduate of the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College located in Tifton, Ga. After receiving a degree in diversified agricultural with a concentration in agricultural business, Knapp returned to the family farm where he knew he would always end up. Knapp decided to attend ABAC after graduation instead of just going straight into farming because he wanted to learn more about the business side of agriculture and once at ABAC, he fell in love with the college and the people and knew the knowledge and connections would help him advance on and off his farming operation. Knapp says returning to the farm has been a challenging but rewarding experience, but couldn’t see himself anywhere else. Knapp’s favorite thing about working with his dad is being able to learn from his years of experience but also getting to teach him something new every now and then. One of the most valuable lessons Joe has taught Knapp is the value of a hard day’s work because the whole act of farming is to complete the task on time and to do it well to make a crop. Knapp is already showing much success. In 2016, Knapp was awarded as National FFA Star Finalist in Ag Placement. This means he was one of the top four finalist in the nation in this category and anyone that has worked for someone in the agricultural industry could compete in this category.

While at the farm, attendees were able to see peanuts being dug and harvested, they also had the opportunity to see corn harvesting.  They were even able to see Knapp turn on the irrigation pivots from the touch of button thanks to a mobile app on his phone. Knapp made the comment that he could even turn the pivots on and off while he was in Tifton at college. Kendall Kirk, a precision agricultural engineer with Clemson University made an appearance at this field stop and talked about the research Clemson University is doing and on Joe Boddiford Farms. Kirk and Clemson University has been working with the Boddiford’s for roughly the past five years. He talked to attendees about attendees about the different technology on the tractor.  The main focus Kirk wanted attendees to look at was the automated depth control system on the peanut digger, which is not available commercially yet, but Clemson is in the process of working with AMADAS on putting the system together.kb1

During the visit at Boddiford Farms, tour attendees were able to hear a crop update by Ray Hick, Screven County Extension Agent.  “I deal with homeowners in the urban area, lawn problems. I always say it’s the little old gray-haired lady with the rose bush problems and everything up to the major producers of crops here in the area. I may be in town in the morning then on the farm with a row crop producer talking about his cotton crop or his peanut crop in the afternoon, says Hicks.”  When it comes to challenges farmers have faced in Screven County Hicks goes on to say, “This year the farmers have had a wide diversity of challenges. Of course, we started off being dry, then we got into a wet period and it delayed some of our plantings, so really, we have two different crops in cotton and peanuts. We have an early crop and a late crop. Now with all the wet weather, it has been trying for the producers to keep fungicides on top of the fungicide sprays, but we have not had to turn the irrigation systems on as much so that will be a saving for them at the end of the year.” Ag South Farm Credit also provided boiled peanuts for participants to enjoy during this stop, and for many, this southern staple was first time experience.

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First Point of Delivery – Tillman and Deal Buying Point

2018_gpt_savannah_0079sOn the first stop of the 32nd annual Georgia Peanut Tour, attendees visited Tillman and Deal Peanut Buying Point in Statesboro, Georgia. The new buying point opened in the fall of 2017 and buys peanuts for Premium Peanut, a peanut sheller based out of Douglas, Georgia. Premium Peanut owns and operates the newest and largest peanut shelling facility in the world. The shelling plant was founded in the fall of 2014 when seven buying points in South Georgia came together to form Premium Peanut. The shelling facility is grower-owned and was designed to integrate the peanut production process, stabilize the market for growers in the region, and ensure a stable supply of peanuts at a competitive cost.

The Premium Peanut shelling facility was designed with the best and newest equipment in the industry, possessing a shelling capacity of over 300,000 tons of peanuts per year. In January of 2016, one month ahead of schedule, shelling operations began on the 2015 harvested crop. In 2018, Premium Peanut expanded to include a filtered crude peanut oil facility located adjacent to the shelling plant. The new operation has the capacity to produce more than 3 million gallons of peanut oil per year.

Tillman and Deal is the first-place farmers deliver their peanuts to at harvest time. The peanut buying point receive, weigh, clean, dry, inspect, grade and prepare peanuts for storage and shelling. All United States produced peanuts must be inspected by the Federal-State Inspection Service at a registered peanut buying point.

2018_gpt_savannah_0076sTillman and Deal buys peanuts from approximately 30 farmers in the area and grades and stores nearly 30,000 tons annually. As peanuts enter the buying point, a sample is taken to determine the moisture level of the peanuts. All peanuts need to be at least 10.5 percent moisture level or below. If the peanuts are above 10.5 percent in moisture then the peanuts are dried in the wagons to decrease the moisture level. The semi-trailers are hooked up to large dryers where air flows through the peanuts and dry them at 105 degrees F. The semi-trailers hold 30 tons of peanuts per load.

2018_gpt_savannah_0107sOnce the peanuts are dry then a sample is taken from the trailer where the peanuts are graded by the Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service. Peanuts are classed by weight, damage and foreign material. If the sample has more than 7 percent foreign material then the peanuts need to run through the cleaner. Once clean, peanuts are put in elevator and placed on a conveyor belt for storage in a warehouse that can hold 15,000 tons of peanuts. Currently, Tillman and Deal only stores the peanut variety, Georgia O6G, in the warehouse on site. All other varieties grown by farmers in the area are shipped directly to Premium Peanut for storage.

Once peanuts leave the buying point and shelling plant then they are shipped by train or semi-trailers to manufacturers who process peanut butter, candy products or delicious roasted peanuts.

View the 2018 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album.