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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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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McCleskey Mills/Olam talks buying point operations

After leaving the Georgia Seed Development Facility, tour attendees traveled south to McCleskey Mills’ peanut buying point in Smithville. Here, tour attendees learned all about the process growers go through when they bring their peanuts to a buying point. Buying points can be owned by farmers, co-ops or agribusinesses. This particular buying point is owned by McCleskey Mills/Olam Edible Nuts. Joe West, senior vice president of U.S. shelling for Olam Edible Nuts, and his staff welcomed tour attendees and gave them an overview of peanut buying point process, which is outlined below.

Joe West, senior vice president of U.S. Shelling for Olam Edible Nuts, explains buying point operations to attendees.

Joe West, senior vice president of U.S. Shelling for Olam Edible Nuts, explains buying point operations to attendees.

  1. When peanuts arrive to the buying point, moisture levels are checked.
  2. If the moisture level is not 10.49 percent or less, the peanuts are placed in semis with dryers attached. The dryers blow air 15 degrees above ambient temperature to allow the peanuts to reach the appropriate moisture level. This process could take up to 15 hours.
  3. After the peanuts are dried, they are cleaned if needed. The peanuts must have 6.49 percent or less of foreign material to be considered cleaned. Foreign material includes items such as sticks, glass, rocks, etc.
  4. Once the peanuts are cleaned, they are inspected by Georgia Federal State Inspection Service.
  5. Finally, the peanuts are either shipped to a sheller or transported to a warehouse for storage until they are needed.

 

Attendees look at a peanut cleaner at McCleskey Mills.

Attendees look at a peanut cleaner at McCleskey Mills.

This Smithville buying point location handles approximately 35,000 farmer stock tons of peanuts each year. During harvest season, they will handle 1,200-1,500 tons per day.

Peanut Dryers

Peanut Dryers

McCleskey Mills, Inc. was founded McCleskey Cotton Company in Americus, Georgia, in 1929. The company’s structure was created in June of 1974, when Thomas J. Chandler acquired McCleskey Mills and operated in Americus until 1983 when the shelling operation was moved to a new facility 12 miles south to Smithville. Upon moving to Smithville, McCleskey Mills tripled its capacity to produce a high quality product for an ever-changing buyer demand. In 2014, Olam International announced the purchase of McCleskey Mills and the two companies joined forces to better serve growers and manufacturers. McCleskey Mills/Olam provides quality raw, shelled peanuts to peanut butter manufacturers, candy and confectionery plants and salted nut roasters throughout the United States and the world. Today, McCleskey Mills/Olam offers Georgia, Florida and Alabama a competitive market with support services and its manufacturer customers with the industry’s highest quality shelled peanuts in the either bags, boxes, totes or bulk containers. To learn more, visit www.mccleskeymills.com.

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Georgia peanut entomology update

While at the University of Georgia’s Southwest Georgia Research & Education Center, tour attendees received a peanut entomology update from Dr. Mark Abney. Dr. Abney is a research and Extension entomologist at the University of Georgia located on the Tifton Campus. The primary focus of his research and Extension program is the development and implementation of economically and environmentally sustainable insect management strategies for pests of peanut.

At the center, Dr. Abney discussed Southern Corn Rootworm, one of the most common pests peanut farmers face in the field. The Southern Corn Rootworm is a pest that harms the peanut plant underground, where it feeds on the actual peanut pod itself. Because it is underground, it is difficult for peanut farmers to monitor and manage the pest to prevent damage and loss of the peanut plant. Currently, there are not a lot of insecticides available to manage Southern Corn Rootworm, so Dr. Abney is researching the use of alternative insecticides. He said his current research trial looks promising.

Corn rootworm larva and damaged peanut pod - Photo courtesy of UGA peanut entomology.

Corn rootworm larva and damaged peanut pod – Photo courtesy of UGA peanut entomology.

Dr. Abney says UGA’s peanut entomology department is diverse. The department is doing a lot of work pertaining to efficacy and thresholds of specific pests like thrips and others. They are also looking into the use of alternative insecticides for products that are being phased out or taken off the market and made unavailable to growers. Lastly, work is being done to understand the biology of the peanut burrower bug in a way that will help growers manage the pest better and reduce damage to their peanut crop.

Peanut burrower bug - photo courtesy of UGA.

Peanut burrower bug – photo courtesy of UGA.

For more information the UGA entomology department, click here.

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Israel farm takes pride in growing quality peanuts in Sumter County

The Georgia Peanut Tour kicked off day two in Sumter County at the farm of Hal Israel. Israel has been farming for 40+ years and manages an operation of 1,500 acres. Along with 530 acres of peanuts, Israel also grows cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat. When asked about his peanut crop, Israel said most of the crop is grown for seed and 90 percent of the crop is irrigated. His peanuts are planted on a two to three year rotation to assist in disease management and he said most of his challenges are weather and pigweed. During the field stop, Israel showed tour attendees a new variety he is growing called GA-16HO. This variety is high-oleic and yields similar to the popular variety, GA-06G. This particular field, right at 145 days old, is estimated to yield an average of 5,800 pounds per acre.

Hal Israel visiting with tour attendees about his farming operation in Sumter County.

Hal Israel visiting with tour attendees about his farming operation in Sumter County.

GA-16HO, the new variety Israel has planted.

GA-16HO, the new variety Israel has planted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tour attendees watching peanuts being dug at the Israel farm.

Dr. Bob Kemerait, Extension plant pathologist at the University of Georgia located on the Tifton Campus, showed tour attendees examples of mild late leaf spot in the field and talked about how Israel incorporates an excellent management approach in his farming operation.

Dr. Bob Kemerait, UGA Extension plant pathologist, showing tour attendees examples of late leaf spot.

Dr. Bob Kemerait, UGA Extension plant pathologist, showing tour attendees examples of late leaf spot.

According to Bill Starr, Sumter County Extension agent, the county averages around 15,000 acres of peanuts each year. Yields average 4,800 pounds per acre and 80 percent of the county’s peanuts are irrigated. Starr also mentioned a large portion of the county’s peanuts are grown for seed. He rates the current peanut crop as good to excellent in most fields. Other major crops grown in Sumter County include: cotton, corn, pecans and vegetables (primarily snap beans). When asked about the most troublesome production issues this year, Starr said whiteflies in cotton and vegetables, difficult weather and disease problems have all presented challenges for growers in his area.

Bill Starr, Sumter County Extension agent, visits with tour attendees about Sumter County ag production.

Bill Starr, Sumter County Extension agent, visits with tour attendees about Sumter County ag production.

To view a video clip of the GA-16HOs being dug, click below.

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That’s a Wrap!

During the final stop of the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour, attendees enjoyed lunch at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center. During lunch, they received an overview of the Georgia Peanut Commission from GPC staff member, Don Koehler and Jessie Bland, executive director and project coordinator, respectively.  They also heard from representatives with Kelley Manufacturing Co. and Lasseter Equipment Group about some of the primary types of equipment peanut growers use on the farm.

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The KMC Model 3386 Six-RowCombine includes a vine spreader and unload on the go system. This combine provides continuous harvesting by off-loading peanuts into a dump cart without stopping. Generally speaking, this option improves harvesting efficiency by approximately 20 percent. The list this price for this piece of equipment is $179,557. To learn more about the KMC combines, click HERE.

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The KMC Model 4815 Dump Cart is tractor drawn and used for the purpose of shuttling peanuts from the combine to the transport trailer. The dump cart improves the harvesting efficiency by eliminating the necessity for the combine to interrupt harvesting to carry to the transport trailer for off-loading. This particular model has a 750 cubic feet capacity and is equipped with extra cleaning screens on the dump side and bottom of the cart. KMC also provides 950 cubic feet models.  All models can be used with numerous other commodities with the addition of optional panels. The list price for this piece of equipment is $46,672. To learn more about the KMC dump cart, click HERE.

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The John Deere 4730 is a popular sprayer in the farming community. Because of its design, farmers are able to spray crops at an appropriate speed, while maintaining comfort and ease of use. The sprayer’s boom is configured to 80 foot, 90 foot and 100 foot adjustments to allow the farmer to choose the best option that matches their field. Most farmers purchase this type of equipment in used condition. The average price for this specific type of equipment (used) is $195,000 for a 2013 model. To learn more the John Deere 4730, click HERE.

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The John Deere 8310R tractor is one designed specifically for row crops and offers performance and reliability. Its design allows farmers to operate in the field more comfortably and efficiently thanks to the advanced technology and controls offered. Some of the more advance features of the tractor allow for more precise work in the field and improved uptime. The average price for this specific type of equipment (used) is $197,500 for a 2013 model. To learn more about the John Deere 8310R, click HERE.

To conclude the tour, attendees were shown a brief slideshow highlighting the 30 years of the Georgia Peanut Tour. Thank you to all of the 2016 sponsors and attendees – we look forward to seeing you in 2017!

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Plant Pathology Update – Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Dr. Albert Culbreath is a research plant pathologist and professor at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus. His work focuses primarily on leaf spot diseases and tomato spotted wilt virus. Culbreath said he has seen more tomato spotted wilt virus during the 2016 growing season than he has in previous years. One thing he is looking into is field resistance with new varieties coming out of the breeding program at UGA, as well as incorporation of thrips management and planting dates. When offering suggestions for growers battling tomato spotted wilt virus, Culbreath suggests planting later in the season and planting in a twin-row pattern to decrease the odds of feeling the effects of the virus. Also, he mentioned plant population and how making sure you have a good, evenly-emerged population (regardless of variety) will help. When looking at varieties, Georgia 06G has an excellent level of resistance to tomato spotted wilt; however, it is not completely resistance and can be overwhelmed. Georgia 12Y is the next best option for someone who has a heavy presence of tomato spotted wilt.  Georgia 13M does not have quite the resistance that Georgia 12Y does, but it seems to have more than Georgia 06G. Overall, if the optimum planting date is selected, the best resistance insecticide option is chosen and seeding rate is taken into consideration, the chance of keeping tomato spotted wilt out of fields is higher.

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Plant Pathology Update – White Mold Disease

Dr. Tim Brenneman is a research plant pathologist at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus. For the 2016 growing season, Brenneman said disease pressure has been relatively “light” until recently. In August, the presence of white mold, a soil-borne disease, erupted in peanut fields across the state. White mold is one of the primary diseases Brenneman works with in his research program. He said he and his team are looking at different cultivars – both those that are resistant and susceptible to the disease – and searching for best practices for managing white mold amongst them. He and his team are looking at new fungicide products on the market, as well as how to get the best activity out of current fungicide products. One method he and his team are looking at is chemigation. This process involves applying the chemical through the irrigation water. It allows the fungicide to seep down into the soil and combat the disease right where it begins. Brenneman is also looking at a new sprayer this year that will open the peanut canopy by spreading the vines back and allow the chemical to reach the soil better. This method is one he hopes will be especially beneficial for dryland peanut growers since that is where he sees most problems with white mold – in fields where farmers are unable to irrigate their peanuts.

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Cropping Systems Update

Dr. Scott Tubbs is the cropping systems agronomist and research peanut agronomist at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus. Most of his research is related to issues the grower can manage in his field directly. A lot of his research focuses on variety testing in different scenarios that affect disease patterns, yield and grade. These scenarios would be things such as, row pattern (twin row vs. single row), tillage patterns (conservation vs. strip-till) and re-plant decisions. For example, if a grower were to have a poor plant stand at the beginning of the season, Tubbs and his team are working to obtain information that will help the grower decide whether he or she should re-plant. Some of the re-plant decisions can cause the maturity profile of the peanuts to shift – having multiple maturities growing in the same field at the same time. In turn, this makes it difficult for the grower to determine the best time to harvest to maximize yield and grade. Because of that, Tubbs’ research at the Lang Farm is focusing on assessing the re-plant decisions in specific plant populations and determining the best timing for digging those peanuts.

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Entomology Update

Dr. Mark Abney is a research and Extension entomologist at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus. The primary focus of his research and Extension program is the development and implementation of economically and environmentally sustainable insect management strategies for pests of peanut.

Abney says 2016 has been an interesting year for insect pressure in peanuts. Thrips, which transmit tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), have had a heavier presence throughout the 2016 growing season. In turn, UGA specialists are seeing more cases of TSWV across the peanut belt. Other issues have varied across the state depending on location and whether farmers are growing irrigated or dryland peanuts.

On dryland peanuts, he is seeing spider mites, lesser cornstalk borers and foliage caterpillars. He has also seen more redneck peanut worms this year than in previous years. He said these are not a real serious issue economically, but they are being seen and reported by growers. Like in previous years, he is seeing the usual three cornered alfalfa hoppers and potato leaf hoppers occasionally; however, they have not become a serious problem. He said he feels the most serious pests he’s seen are the lesser cornstalk borers (mid-season) and two spotted spider mites (late season). Those are starting to really show up in dryland peanuts, and in turn, the fields are not looking good. He believes the yield potential is not looking too good. “It’s tough, because nematicides that we need to use to control those populations are really expensive and it’s hard to make the call to put that money into a crop when your yield potential is low.” He said he is trying to work with growers to make the best decision when it comes to insect pressure.

Dr. Rajagopalbabu Srinivasan is an entomologist at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus. His research focuses on studying thrips, whitefly and aphid-transmitted plant viruses affecting several crops in Georgia, as well as across the Southeast. Specifically in peanuts, he has been studying tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) due to the increased presence over the last two years. His current research is looking at the causes of the flair up of TSWV in recent years. Some of the potential causes he and his team are looking at include plant resistance – resistance to the virus may have decreased in some varieties; changes in the virus – resistance breaking strains; and thrips developing a resistance to insecticides. Because thrips transmit TSWV, they have the potential to be the reason for the virus increase if insecticides are not working well enough to keep thrips at bay. Srinivasan thinks this could certainly be the reason why thrips pressure has increased, along with TSWV, over the past few years. This is one of the main issues he and his team are working to learn more about.

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