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

View the 2017 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album

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.

View the 2017 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album 

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.











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.

View the 2017 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album

Food Safety is a Priority in the Peanut Industry

Food safety was a primary topic during the Georgia Peanut Tour Hot Topics seminar. Attendees were able to hear updates from researchers at the University of Georgia Griffin Campus and from JLA USA.

Anand Mohan, UGA researcher, focused his presentation of FSMA and its effects on peanut processing. Food facilities are required to register with FDA under sec. 415 of the FD&C Act. The researchers at Griffin Campus are working to provide food facilities assistance with a food safety plan, preventive controls, management responsibility and principles of equipment design.
View Anand Mohan’s presentation.

In addition to learning about new regulations, attendees were able to learn about some of the peanut related food safety issues from Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, director of the UGA Center for Food Safety. According to Diez-Gonzalez, there are different type of foodborne diseases in foods ranging from intoxications, infections and sensitivies. The peanut’s main food safety risks are allergies, mycotoxins and salmonella.
View Francisco Diez-Gonzalez’s presentation.

The final presenter in the food safety panel, Jack Davis of JLA USA, presented information on managing aflatoxin in peanuts. Aflatoxin is a prominent class of mycotoxins which are a product of fungal growth and invisible to the human eye. The Food and Agricultural Organization estimates 25 percent of the World’s crops are contaminated by mycotoxins. Aflatoxin contaminates a range of important crops including corn, peanuts, cotton, rice, nuts, chiles and spices. The U.S. peanut industry has invested heavily over the past fifty plus years to miniize aflatoxin in the edible market.
View Jack Davis’s presentation.

View 2017 Georgia Peanut Tour photo album.

The Sustainable Peanut

img_7560Peanuts are a sustainable crop because of their nitrogen-fixing properties that benefit soil and other crops. Now researchers are recommending that farmers plant sod in rotation with peanuts to further improve the sustainability of the land, and the health of America’s favorite nut. During the Georgia Peanut Tour Hot Topics seminar, sustainability efforts of the peanut industry were presented to attendees.

David Prybylowski, sustainability consultant for the American Peanut Council, provided an update on the peanut industry’s initiatives regarding sustainability. According to Prybylowski, meeting the needs of the present while improving the ability of future generations to meet their own needs by increasing productivity, improving the environment and improving profitability for growers. Simply put, getting more peanuts from the same or less inputs.

Prybylowski shared a crop comparison water footprint of shelled peanuts versus shelled almonds, walnuts and pistachios. Shelled peanuts utilize 4.7 gallons of water per ounce while almonds use 80.4 gallons of water per ounce, walnuts use 73.5 gallons of water per ounce and pistachios use 16.8 gallons of water per ounce.

Even with this outstanding data on water usage, the peanut industry is still working towards measuring sustainability as the science continues to advance. In fact, Georgia has brought together farmers, researchers and other industry representatives in a pilot project through the Georgia Peanut Sustainability Initiative. According to Marshall Lamb, committee member of the Georgia Peanut Sustainability Initiative, the initiative plans to gather initial farm-level data on sustainability efforts to help provide data to better understand the efficiency, conservation and economic returns to producers. Additional projects include development of education and outreach programs to help peanut producers and continue to educate consumers with sustainability messaging.

For additional information on the sustainability efforts of the U.S. peanut industry click here.
View David Prybylowski’s presentation.
View Marshall Lamb’s presentation.

View the 2017 Georgia Peanut Tour Photo Album.

Update on the 2017 Peanut Crop and Farm Bill


Scott Monfort – University of Georgia peanut agronomist

To kick off the 31st annual Georgia Peanut Tour attendees were able to learn more about the peanut crop and food safety during the Hot Topics Seminar Tuesday afternoon. During the seminar Scott Monfort, University of Georgia peanut agronomist, provided an update on the 2017 peanut crop. According to Monfort this is the third year that Georgia has had more than 700,000 acres planted to peanuts. For the 2017 crop, 828,000 acres were planted with a predicted yield of 4,600 lbs. per acre. However, the weather and other complications could have an impact on the final production for the year. The year 2017 did bring the longest planting season on record going from March 27 to July 5, according to Monfort.  However, some farmers did have poor stands due to weather and poor vigor of the crop, chemical injury, aspergillus crown rot, aspergillus flavus, nematode damage as well as damage from hogs and simple grower mistakes. Then recently farmers had to deal with Hurricane Irma. However, many farmers were able to pick their peanuts before the hurricane hit or the peanuts were still in the ground. However, farmers who also grow cotton or pecans had damage to those crops. Overall, Monfort says irrigated yields and quality so far have been above average. Some of the non-irrigated yields were impacted by the dry weather in August. However, time will only tell in the final outcome of the 2017 Georgia peanut crop.

View Scott Monfort’s presentation.

In addition to the crop update, Stanley Fletcher, director of the National Center for Peanut Competitiveness, provided an update on the farm bill discussions. According to Fletcher, many of the farm bill mark-ups will take place this fall and may be considered in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate at that time. However, it is too soon to know when the final bill will pass Congress. Fletcher also provided an update on the Representative Peanut Farms. The 22 farms across the U.S. provide Fletcher with information on the operating costs and other expenses on the farm. This data helps Fletcher provide an economic analysis on what will work or not work for peanut farmers across the U.S. in the farm bill.

View Stanley Fletcher’s presentation.