A Premium Southern Lunch

After a great tour at Premium Peanut’s shelling facility, tour attendees traveled to downtown Douglas where lunch was hosted at the Central Square Complex and sponsored by Premium Peanut LLC. Attendees enjoyed a home-style meal and received a brief presentation from Premium Peanut, along with a raffle drawing with giveaways.

After hearing from Premium Peanut’s representatives, Dr. Sam Pardue, dean and director of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, addressed the group. Dean Pardue joined the college in March from North Carolina State University, where he served as associate dean for academics.

Today, the dean is celebrating his six month anniversary serving in his role at UGA. He expressed his gratitude to the agricultural community for welcoming him and allowing him to learn more about the Georgia agricultural industry. During his six month tenure, he said the same sentiment is echoed within all commodities across the state.

“Everyone is so grateful for what the University of Georgia and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences does for them, and I think it’s a great partnership,” Pardue said.


Whether it’s research conducted, the services offered by Cooperative Extension or the privilege of educating young men and women across the state – Pardue sees the value in it all. He asked attendees to encourage young men and women in their lives to consider agriculture in their future.

Pardue went on to talk about the growing population and the need to feed and clothe the world in the coming years.

“I was born in 1955 and there were three billion people on the planet…If the good Lord keeps me around until I’m 95, there will be over nine billion people on the planet, so in my lifetime alone, we’ve seen an increase of the population that will have tripled,” Pardue said.


He said the need for additional land, less water use, etc. will grow in demand, yet we will have to feed and clothe more people than ever before. And this was something that could only be accomplished with a vision and forward thinking. He complimented the Georgia agricultural industry and its leaders who have had that vision and who have put Georgia in a position to be a leader in so many areas, such as peanuts.

View the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album

Premium Peanut LLC – A new company with extensive peanut experience

The second stop on the tour today featured the newest grower-owned shelling plant in Georgia – Premium Peanut LLC. This makes the third grower owned shelling plant to open in the past 15 years in Georgia. Premium Peanut was formed in the fall of 2014, with more than 200 grower owners and seven buying points. Following a year of construction in Douglas, Georgia, the plant began shelling peanuts in 2015.

Premium Peanut held their official ribbon cutting and open house April 22, 2016. Approximately 400 shareholders, dignitaries, community supporters and guests came out to help the company celebrate.

“We have more than 200 dedicated grower owners. They are not just growing peanuts for us,” says Karl Zimmer, president and CEO of Premium Peanut LLC. “They own shares in the company and they are invested in the future of the company.”

img_7546According to Kent Fountain, chairman of the board at Premium Peanut, the shelling plant will always have a steady supply of 140,000 tons of peanuts year in and year out. The company has spent a great deal of time and effort to develop export markets to Europe, South America and Asia.

At Premium Peanut, if a grower purchased shares in the company, they must grow and deliver farmerstock peanuts. This helped promote broad ownership in the company, Zimmer adds.

“This also helps ensure visibility and stability throughout the supply chain, and is in-line with one of our objectives, which is to help stabilize the market for South Georgia producers.”

Stabilizing the market is just one reason growers such as Elton Brooks decided to invest in Premium Peanut.

“I chose to invest in Premium Peanut because it means a lot to our area as far as jobs and the economy, as well as the peanut farmers. It helps to stabilize the acres and prices so we can plan for the future a lot better,” Brooks says.

All three of the grower-owned shelling plants are very similar in the fact that growers invested in the capital investment, must guarantee a certain quantity of peanuts to the shelling plants and the plants are the only new 5th generation LMC-designed shelling facilities. The other two grower-owned shelling plants are Tifton Quality Peanuts om Tifton, Georgia, and American Peanut Growers Group in Donalsonville, Georgia.

At Premium Peanut, each of the seven buying points provided capital up-front to enable the project to get off the ground. Once shares were sold to growers, the buying points were reimbursed. The plant also received funding from AgSouth and a New Markets Tax Credit from the U.S. Treasury Department.

View the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album.

Peanut Partners & Coffee County Crop Update

Tour peanutpartnersparticipants were able to learn more about the grading process for peanuts and the sorting, drying and storage methods at a Peanut Partners buying point in Douglas, Ga. during the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour. As peanuts enter the buying point the semitrailers of peanuts are dried and then samples are taken from the trailers for grading. The peanuts are graded by employees of the Georgia Federal State Inspection Service. Peanut Partners is a relatively  new business to Coffee County, co-owners Clarkie Leverette, Phil Murray, and Lyle Gaskins opened the peanut facility in August 2015.

Mark von Waldner has served as the county extension agent in Coffee Co. for four years. Prior to his time in Coffee Co. von Waldner served as the county extension agent in Atkinson Co. for 23 years. “Peanuts have been one of my favorite crops and we are excited the peanut tour is coming through Coffee County this year, he says.” This year Coffee Co. has over 50,000 acres of peanut planted, which is a lot more than the counties average due to low cotton prices “Peanuts are very important to us. The crop this year has been tough; each field has been hit or miss with rains,” von Waldner adds.  Irrigated peanuts in the county still looks pretty good, but it’s going to be a tough call on dry land as when to dig. Farmers in Coffee Co.  have had some issues with white mold, mostly dry weather has caused lesser cornstalk borers problem and some burrowing bug and spider mite issues. “Overall, Coffee Co. is expected to have a pretty good crop, it is just not going to be the best we’ve ever had due to the drought.”

View the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour photo album

Tour of the Georgia Museum of Agriculture

Image result for georgia museum of agWhile the Georgia Peanut Tour focuses on educating attendees about the quality of Georgia peanuts, the tour also brings together Southern hospitality and great food. This year is no exception! Tour attendees were able to step back into the 19th Century while touring the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historical Village and listening to the wise words of Mr. Frank McGill, former peanut agronomist at the University of Georgia and Georgia Peanut Hall of Farm. While at the museum, attendees were able to explore the farms, listen to the barnyard sounds, experience everyday 19th century-style life in the wiregrass village and learn more about the history of Georgia agriculture in the museum.

Friendly staff members share the history as they perform daily activities whether in farmhouses, fields, sawmill, turpentine still, schoolhouse, blacksmith’s shop, or the grist mill. Visitors can also stroll up the main street to the Feed and Seed store, the print shop and the drug store. During the tour, attendees were able to tour the original Victorian home of Tifton’s founder, Captain H. H. Tift. The Tift House was designed with curly pine molding, high ceilings, antique furnishings, and heart pine floors. It’s furnished with a wood burning cook stove, Victorian paintings, ornate wallpaper, and fine china.gma-images

Georgia’s Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village opened as the Agrirama on July 4, 1976. The grounds consist of five areas: a traditional farm community of the 1870s, an 1890s progressive farmstead, an industrial sites complex, rural town, national peanut complex, and the Museum of Agriculture Center. Over 35 structures have been relocated to the 95-acre site and faithfully restored or preserved. Costumed interpreters explain and demonstrate the life-style and activities of this time in Georgia’s history.

img_1428At the end of the evening, tour attendees were able to partake in the annual low country boil. This low country boil tradition has been sponsored by Dow AgroSciences for all 30 Georgia Peanut Tours. Supper was finished up with, of course, a variety of peanut butter flavored ice-creams.

View the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album.

2016 Peanut Crop Update from Scott Monfort, UGA Extension peanut agronomist

The 2016 peanut crop got off to one of the best starts we’ve had in the last several years. The UGA Peanut Team had high hopes that the potential of the crop would stay that way through the entire growing season; however, like always, mother nature tends to throw a curve ball and has caused some major situations to develop through the growing season- one of those being lack of rainfall. 50 percent of Georgia’s 2016 peanut crop is irrigated. If  looking at just the irrigated crop, the yield potential has maintained itself through the growing season and looks pretty good. “But, the non-irrigated is what we are worried about most,” says Scott Monfort, UGA Extension peanut agronomist. Non-irrigated peanuts have gone through most of the growing season without rainfall which has severely crippled the peanut crop in some areas where they have very little yield or none at all. That’s about 20 to 30 percent at the most of the non-irrigated crop, the rest of it can go from having a light yield to a very good yield depending on how much rain they received.

Currently with the 2016 Georgia Peanut Crop, “we are still trying to find out how much of the non-irrigated crop farmers will actually harvest and part of that will be determined by  how much of the non-irrigated crop has been affected by other issues like diseases and insects and how that might affect yield and quality,” Monfort states. Georgia has planted 770,000 acres of peanuts. “We are just going to have to wait as we begin this harvest to determine where we are at and what the average yields are going to be,” he adds. If you look on the National Ag Statistics website, they have Georgia listed as producing 4,600 pounds as the state average. Monfort says we are not going to make that. “We are going to be somewhere in between 3,600 and 4,100 pounds at the best for this year at the best. That has a lot of the industry worried now because we’ve had higher exports from peanuts last year and lower yields so we are wondering if we are going to have enough supply to meet the domestic demand going into next year,” Monfort adds.

View the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour album

Hot Topics focus on the University of Georgia peanut programs

monfort-at-hot-topicsThe 30th annual Georgia Peanut Tour kicked off on the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 13, with a “Hot Topics” symposium located at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture. Expert speakers addressed the current status of Georgia’s peanut crop and also the importance of University research in sustaining peanut production in Georgia. Symposium speakers will discuss recent innovations and research in peanut production, breeding, pest management, engineering, storage and handling, and processing.

University of Georgia and USDA scientists conduct research and extension programs on all aspects of peanut production. The majority of these scientists are located at the University of Georgia’s Coastal Plain Experiment Station at Tifton. The remaining scientists are located at the Georgia Station at Griffin, the main campus at Athens, and the USDA’s National Peanut Research Lab at Dawson.

Producing a peanut crop involves a broad spectrum of cultural practices. These include: agronomics, fertilization, cultivar selection, pest management (weeds, insects, diseases), irrigation, mechanization, economics and marketing. The University of Georgia Peanut Team produces a guidebook annually for growers to use throughout the production season. The 2016 Georgia Peanut Update is available online for growers. The University of Georgia also has numerous publications related to peanut production and many of the publications are available through the UGA Cooperative Extension county offices.

View the speaker presentations by clicking here.

View the 2016 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album.