Grower-Owned Peanut Processing Facility

During the final stop on the Georgia Peanut Tour attendees were able to tour the grower-owned peanut processing facility, American Peanut Growers Group, which is based in Donalsonville, Georgia. Throughout the tour, attendees were able to visit the buying point, shelling plant, blancher and learn more about APGG’s new peanut ingredient processing facility. APGG was formed in late 2002 and the company includes two buying points, two shelling plants, one blancher, one cold storage facility, multiple warehouses, a feed mill, a solar field for renewable energy and their newest venture, a ready-to-eat peanut ingredient facility.

Neal Flannagen, president and CEO of APGG, welcomed attendees to APGG and provided an overview of the facility. The first step of the process includes peanuts arriving to APGG from the farm. APGG currently processes 80,000 tons of farmer stock peanuts at their buying point.

When peanuts first arrive their moisture level is checked. If the moisture level is not below 10.49 percent, then the peanuts are sent to the drying shed. Once peanuts are dried, they are cleaned if needed and then they are inspected and graded by the Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service. Then the peanuts are stored in a warehouse on-site at APGG until they are needed.

APGG sells raw and blanched peanuts to all major peanut product manufacturers in the U.S. and many companies worldwide. APGG offers bulk packaging to their customers through rail cars or semi-trucks. Additionally, APGG exports peanuts to customers in South America, Europe and Asia, through the port of Savannah, Georgia, which is one of the busiest ports on the east coast of the United States.

APGG has the ability to roast 20,000 pounds of peanuts per hour. After roasting they temper the peanuts for six to eight hours before shipping. Peanuts can also go to the blancher where the red skin is removed. The blanched peanuts are sorted by size, splits are removed, and orders are shipped based on customer specifications.

In 2022, APGG began their newest venture with the creation of the American Peanut Ingredients, LLC (API). The new 140,000 square-foot facility includes an additional shelling plant and a ready-to-eat peanut ingredient plant. The new venture allows API the ability to sale peanut butter in bulk, peanut paste or as a granule.

One unique thing about the grower owners of APGG is that they have a higher percentage of irrigated land than the state average for Georgia. All of the APGG farmer members are excellent growers who deliver exceptional quality and high yields to APGG’s shelling plants.

For more information on APGG visit their website at

View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album


What is a peanut entomologist?

Mark Abney, peanut entomologist at the University of Georgia, provided an overview of his work during the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour. He receives the question many times from people asking, what does the peanut entomologist at University of Georgia do?

According to Abney, peanuts are not really any different than other agricultural commodities and the focus now is on sustainability.

“In order to be sustainable, you have to be profitable and insects threaten profitability right,” Abney says. “Insects in the field are going to eat the crop and they are either eating the leaves and we need leaves to make peanuts or they are eating the peanuts.”

At the end of the day, insects can cost growers money. Even though, Abney can find insects in almost every field in Georgia, the insects do not always need to be controlled. Some of the insects are pests while some of the insects are beneficial. In some cases, the insects present may be a pest but the population in the field may not warrant an insecticide application.

For growers, trying to manage insects can be troublesome. That is where Abney sees his role as the peanut entomologist in helping growers. Abney conducts research on the insects that occur in peanuts, develops thresholds and evaluates chemistry of products for insect management.

When Abney evaluates chemistry, he looks at the insecticides that are available, what works best, what is most economical to put on the peanut crop to manage the insect pests that farmers have so they can preserve yield and preserve profitability.

According to Abney, it is important for individuals to know that farmers don’t kill insects for fun. Farmers work to manage insects in their field and should use insecticides in crops when the insect pest is going to cause yield loss.

“If they’re going to cause yield loss that costs more than what it costs to kill them, then that’s the only time we should manage insect pests in the crop,” Abney says.

Every year is different in terms of insect and disease pressure and 2023 is no different. This production year started out cool and with thrips pressure and tomato spotted wilt virus. In August, farmers had caterpillars including velvet bean caterpillars come in the last few weeks of the growing season.

Abney’s research and extension program focuses on determining what the best products are, what the best tools are and what the best practices are to reduce the risk of insect injury and then control those insects or manage those insects when they do occur in the field.

So, when it gets right down to it the goal of my research and extension program is to understand the insect pests that are present and learn how to best manage them,” Abney says. “Then what can we do to manage them when they occur and then get that information out to our growers so that they can implement those practices on their farm and ultimately preserve yield and profitability.”

View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Photo Album.

Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus on Peanuts

Albert Culbreath, research plant pathologist at the University of Georgia, started his career in Tifton back in 1989. Culbreath came to the university to work on foliar diseases of peanuts, but tomato spotted wilt virus made an appearance and he has been working on that virus ever since his arrival to Tifton.

“We’ve made a lot of progress. The virus progressed extremely rapidly in those first few years by the mid-90s,” Culbreath says. “TSWV was a significant part of crop losses, and the virus came close to putting us out of peanut production. I’m proud to be part of an integrated management research extension team that addressed the problem.”

Through the years, the team of researchers working on TSWV has made a lot of strides in managing the virus. An integrated approach has been an excellent example of that, Culbreath says.

“No production practice actually provides adequate control of the disease in the field, but we’ve put together multiple factors that all work together so we can have a huge impact on managing TSWV,” Culbreath says.

Culbreath continues to work on spotted wilt and is proud of the progress the research team has made through the year.

“We’re living with the virus now, but it is still an extremely important factor in our peanut production,” Culbreath says. “Our losses to spotted wilt have been up the last couple of years.”

Culbreath’s research program is geared towards helping breeders develop better and better varieties and better resistance to spotted wilt so that it will hold up to it. Currently there are no varieties with full immunity to the virus.

Through Culbreath’s integrated research program, he helps with mapping and marker development that will hopefully help the next generation of breeders and plant pathologists. His research focus continues to compare advanced breeding lines from multiple breeding programs and the lines resistance to spotted wilt.

Culbreath also compares the available peanut varieties response to Thimet insecticide since spotted wilt is vectored by thrips. Thimet is the only insecticide available that controls thrips and gives some suppression of spotted wilt.

According to Culbreath, the research is a team effort which includes researchers and extension professionals across multiple disciplines.

The virus is complicated but together the team of researchers are making progress.

“When you have a virus that’s complicated like spotted wilt, then it takes a team approach,” Culbreath says. “We are continuing to make progress, but it seems like the virus stays two steps ahead of us sometimes.”

There are some promising lines in the breeding program that has resistance to spotted wilt but for now the variety, Georgia-12Y is the best line with resistance to spotted wilt. In years with heavy spotted wilt pressure, Culbreath says growers need to be mindful of the optimum planning date, higher seeding rates and the insecticide Thimet.

“We are continuing our work on spotted wilt by putting together as many factors as possible that are available now and looking for new and better resistance in the breeding lines that we have and what will be coming down the pipe,” Culbreath says. “So, hopefully we can eventually get to where spotted wilt is not a factor in peanut production, but for the moment, I’m afraid it’s still a mighty strong enemy.”

View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Photo Album.

Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics of Peanuts

David Bertioli is a professor in the University of Georgia Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics program. He works closely with Soraya Bertioli in what is known as the wild peanut lab. Now to explain what the wild peanut lab is, let me take you back five or ten thousand years to South America when the first inhabitants were growing wild peanuts. That area is now known as Argentina and Bolivia.

Wild peanuts are very small, and they spread on the ground, but at the time that was a nutritious crop for them. The inhabitants cultivated peanuts moving up and down during their migrations on the Eastern side of the Andes and they ended up cultivating two species together, which don’t normally grow together. In this way they encourage the formation of a hybrid and that hybrid between two species gave rise to all of the peanuts in the world. The fact that it’s a hybrid means that peanut has got that vigor. The peanut got that productivity that we love but the fact that it was just one hybrid probably that gave rise to all of the peanuts in the world. That means that it has phenomenally narrow genetics.

That’s the reason for peanuts being very susceptible to pests and diseases and being expensive to grow. It’s one of the most expensive row crops to grow because it needs protection. So, what we’re doing in the wild peanut lab is we are going back to the wild species to bring in especially pest and disease resistances.

What we do is we take two different species which are similar to the original ones but not the same ones. We hybridize them together in a process that mimics the original origin of peanut and then we hybridize those to peanut itself. We hybridize again and we do genetics and then use the information from the peanut genome project and at the end of our process which takes about 10 years we get lineages like this. Some of the peanuts produced in Georgia crossed with wild genetics brings in very strong resistance against things like leaf spot, rust fungus, tomato spotted wilt virus and nematode.

View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Photo Album.

Effects of Nematodes on Peanuts

University of Georgia plant pathologist Tim Brenneman studies peanut diseases and a range of pests that attack peanuts. During the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour visit to the University of Georgia Attapulgus Research and Education Center, Brenneman discussed nematodes and the impact this pest has on peanuts.

“Nematodes are a very serious problem with peanuts,” Brenneman says. “They are round worms that live in the soil and feed on the roots and the pods of peanuts.”

Today, researchers are phenotyping new varieties that have a great level of resistance to nematodes. According to Brenneman, that’s a huge advancement because some of the most expensive chemicals put on peanuts are geared to manage nematodes.

“Management of nematodes is a huge cost of production, so these new varieties with extremely high levels of resistance are beneficial to farmers since they require no chemical inputs,” Brenneman says.

Brenneman is working with the peanut breeders to phenotype. Through phenotyping, Brenneman and the breeders work to characterize the new lines and show how resistant they really are in the field as well as making sure they have the high yield potential that growers need for new commercial peanut varieties.

“It’s very exciting to see the big differences out here in the field among current peanut varieties and some of the new nematode resistant varieties. Some of the new varieties will be available within the next couple of years that should help our industry and growers produce high yields at a lower cost,” Brenneman says. “That’s what we need to stay competitive in the world peanut market.”


View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Photo Album.

2023 Georgia Peanut Crop Update

During the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour, Scott Monfort, University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist, provided an update on the peanut crop and some of the some of the issues growers have dealt with throughout the season.

According to Monfort, growers had a bumpy start to this season.

“We had rough weather early and when I say rough it was very cool and very wet to begin with and then it stayed cool throughout June,” Monfort says. “So, it took us a little while to get this crop up and going, but the crop did finally get there. The only issue now is that farmers are about two weeks late.”

The peanut crop did catch up a little bit with the hot weather in July and August. However, according to Monfort, peanuts need more hot weather. During the first part to the middle part of September, farmers begin their harvest.

“This is our time to figure out how well we did this year and I’m afraid to say that we are in a situation where it’s not a perfect crop,” Monfort says. “We’ve had rough weather like I mentioned earlier, real hot through the middle part of this summer and we did dry out in some places, especially in the western part of the state. Some areas have gone three to four or five weeks in some places without any rain.”

The recent Hurricane Idalia did help some of the acres from the central part of the state through the eastern part, but it did not help the farmers in the western part of the state. The dry land crop is still suffering some in parts of Georgia.

“We’re going to have to harvest some of those a little bit earlier,” Monfort says. “The yield’s going to be a little bit lower quality, but I think at this point if we can capture the crop that’s on it, the quality should be okay.”

According to Monfort, the irrigated crop at this point is on par.

“The irrigated crop is doing good,” Monfort says. “It looks like we still have a pretty good high yield potential as long as we continue doing what we can by taking care of all the pest problems and irrigating when needed.”

Monfort encourages growers to wait until their peanuts are as mature as possible to help with their overall yield and quality.

“We’re going to have some areas of the state that we’ve got to worry about, but I think for growers throughout the state, we’ve made it through a tough year, and we’ve been able to still make a crop,” Monfort says. “I think we’ll end the year at least on a good note as far as I can tell, if growers follow through and finish the things that we need to.”

View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Photo Album.

Aflatoxin Issues in Peanuts

Jake Fountain, mycotoxin and post-harvest pathogen specialist at the University of Georgia, provided an update on his research program during the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour. Fountain’s research program primarily focuses on aflatoxin issues in peanuts and also other crops overall.

His lab is working on a few different research directions to try to mitigate aflatoxin issues including host plant resistance. Through the research, he is looking at bringing genetics from wild species of peanuts to new breeding lines in order to improve the resistance of peanuts to aflatoxin issues.

The second area we work on is detection for aflatoxins. Fountain works closely in collaboration with other UGA and USDA research scientists to develop technology to do hot spot prediction using drone technology equipped with fancy cameras to try to find spots in the field that are at higher risk for aflatoxin issues. He is also working closely with this group to try to look at the soil microbiology associated with those hot spots and see if they are at a greater risk for having isolates of the aspergillus fungus that make more amounts of aflatoxins.

The third focus area is looking at the pathogens’ biology. There’s still a lot of questions about why this fungus produces aflatoxin in the first place. What controls how much it makes and how it actually gets into peanuts.

Fountain is looking at doing a survey of aspergillus fungus associated with peanuts here in the Southeast. Primarily, here in southern Georgia in collaboration with Premium Peanut and other UGA scientists and also Hudson Alpha in Huntsville, Alabama, Fountain is looking at doing genome sequencing and understanding the genetics of this fungus.

Finally, we’re looking at biotechnology right now. GMO peanuts are not something that the peanut industry here in the U.S is really exploring using due to export concerns and public perceptions. The technology that’s used in GMOs can be very useful for aflatoxin prevention so what Fountain is trying to do now is to develop a kind of biotech pesticide that uses the same type of technology that would go into GMO but can be applied as a spray to non-GMO peanuts and hopefully provide the same level of effect to reducing aflatoxins.

“Overall, this year we’re looking at a pretty good crop with reduced aflatoxin and risk,” Fountain says. “However, vigilance is always the key and we’re hoping that our research programs help fill in some gaps and help with the mitigation of aflatoxin for our growers here in the state.”

View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Photo Album.

UGA Peanut Breeding Update

Nino Brown, University of Georgia peanut breeder provided an update to 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour attendees on the peanut breeding program at the university. Brown works closely with Bill Branch, peanut breeder at the University of Georgia, as they work to develop new cultivars or varieties of peanuts for growers in Georgia and beyond.

“We look to improve yield and improve profitability,” Brown says. “We do a lot of work improving disease resistance, insect resistance and improving shelling quality characteristics that are important for the growers, the shellers, manufacturers and ultimately the consumer.”

So, Brown and Branch make crosses between cultivars that have a number of good characteristics and then they evaluate the progenies that come out of those crosses. This process takes several years.

“It takes approximately 10 to 12 years from the time we make an initial cross-pollination to the time we have something that is ready for a variety release and then ready to sell to growers,” Brown says.

The breeding lines are tested all over the state of Georgia at research farms in Midville, Plains, Attapulgus and Tifton. The new peanut lines are also tested at research and education centers or research farms throughout the peanut growing region where the cultivar could be grown.

“We do that so whenever we release a cultivar to growers, we know that it’s going to perform well in a variety of growing situations and in a number of growing environments that the cultivar may encounter in in South Georgia,” Brown says.

View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Photo Album.

Hot Topics Seminar Focuses on Advancements in Integrative Precision Agriculture for Enhanced Peanut Production and Processing

The 35th annual Georgia Peanut Tour kicked off with a Hot Topics seminar on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at the Cloud Livestock Pavilion in Bainbridge, Georgia. The seminar provided an update on the 2023 peanut crop as well as an update on the farm bill and other legislative activities that can have an impact on the peanut industry. Each year the seminar also highlights some of the latest hot topics happening in the industry and this year’s special focus included advancements in integrative precision agriculture for enhanced peanut production and processing.  The speakers provided an overview of the University of Georgia FoodPIC Center and the USDA Peanut Germplasm Collection as well as information on irrigation technologies and precision agriculture in peanut production.

Click on the links below to view the speaker presentations.

Novel Technologies in Peanut Processing – Dr. Jim Gratzek, director of UGA’s Food Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC)

USDA Peanut Germplasm Collection at the UGA Griffin Campus Genebank – Dr. Shyam Tallury, Peanut Curator at the USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit

New Peanut Irrigation Technologies – Dr. Wes Porter, University of Georgia Associate Professor and Extension Specialist covering Precision Agriculture and Irrigation

Precision Agricultural Management Systems – Dr. George Vellidis, University of Georgia Professor

Strategies to Improve Peanut Production – Dr. Cris Pilon, University of Georgia Assistant Professor in Row Crops Physiology

Precision Agriculture in Peanut Production – Dr. Simer Virk, University of Georgia Assistant Professor and Extension Precision Ag Specialist

Update on the 2023 Georgia Peanut Crop – Dr. Scott Monfort, University of Georgia Extension Peanut Agronomist

Washington and Farm Bill Update – Dr. Stanley Fletcher, policy professor at Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College’s Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation


View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album.

Welcome to the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour

We warmly welcome each of you and thank you for joining us on the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour. Whether this is your first time with us, or you are a “Peanut Tour Veteran,” we are very happy to host you on our 35th tour. As in previous years, you will be immersed in the production efforts of one of Georgia’s most important agricultural crops and we hope this gives you better insight not only into the challenges our farmers face, but also reasons why we say that the world’s best peanuts are produced in Georgia. It is our hope that you will come to better understand and appreciate the heritage of peanut production in our state. Those engaged in the peanut industry, including farmers, buyers, processors, researchers, Extension personnel, and Georgia Peanut Commission representatives, are proud that Georgia is the leading peanut producing state in the United States and we are excited to share this year’s crop with you.

The 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour is staged in the southwest region of our state’s production area and begins on the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 12, with a “Hot Topics” symposium. Our speakers will address the status of our peanut crop and provide a special focus on new technologies in peanut production and processing. You will get an update on the legislation affecting peanut production.

The next two days of the tour provide you an opportunity to learn more about production, research, processing and more. Field visits will provide you with a glimpse of conventional peanut production, digging, and harvest, at the farm of Rusty and Jerry Davis near Climax, Georgia, and Glen Heard in Brinson, Georgia. University of Georgia and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers will provide you with updates on groundbreaking research projects they have at the UGA Research and Education Center located in Attapulgus, Georgia. The tour visits the facilities of LMC Manufacturing to see the engineering and fabrication of the world’s most widely used peanut cleaning, shelling, and processing equipment. We will get an integrated look at peanut buying, shelling, and processing as we visit the grower-cooperative American Peanut Growers Group in Donalsonville, Georgia.

Again, on behalf of the Peanut Tour Committee, with members from the Georgia Peanut Commission, the University of Georgia, and the USDA-ARS National Peanut Research Lab, I warmly welcome you to the 35th Georgia Peanut Tour! We hope that over the next few days you will better appreciate the complexity of the peanut industry in Georgia and the personal commitments from all involved in producing the world’s finest peanuts! We hope our events will allow for fellowship and that you enjoy southern hospitality at its finest exploring a beautiful, rural part of our state. We offer our sincere thanks to all the sponsors, who through their generosity, help make this tour possible. Please do not hesitate to let us know how we can help you as we travel the highways and byways of our state’s production area. We are proud of our peanut farmers and our peanut industry; we are happy that we can share them with you.

View the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album.