2018 Peanut Tour Showcases Southeast Georgia’s peanut industry

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2018 Georgia Peanut Tour attendees see harvest first-hand at the farm of Lee and Charley Cromely in Brooklet, Ga.

When people think of Georgia peanuts, they often think of the thousands of acres planted on the western half of the coastal plain. But the truth is that east Georgia boasts its share of peanuts as well.

During the 2018 Georgia Peanut Tour, about 200 industry leaders and other peanut stakeholders learned about the eastern half of Georgia’s peanut belt — from the Bulloch County fields that produce more than $20 million worth of peanuts a year to the Port of Savannah, where Georgia’s peanut exports are sent overseas.

The Georgia Peanut Tour is organized by the Georgia Peanut Commission with the help of industry leaders and peanut researchers at the University of Georgia. It’s designed to help peanut stakeholders, who are not familiar with Georgia agriculture, to learn more about the local impact of peanut farming and how commission-funded research impacts individual growers and farms.

This year’s tour attracted attendees from more than 20 states and four countries outside of the U.S., according to Joy Crosby, communications director for the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Over the course of the three-day tour, experts from the University of Georgia Peanut Team and peanut farmers from across the region explained the link between Georgia’s peanut industry and the research pioneered by agricultural scientists at UGA.

“Georgia peanut farmers realize that research is what’s going to move them forward,” said Bob Kemerait, a peanut plant pathologist with UGA Cooperative Extension and a Georgia Peanut Tour committee member, explaining that farmers fund over $1 million in research each year through the peanut commission.

One research success farmers pointed to repeatedly during the tour was UGA peanut experts’ work to control tomato spotted wilt virus in the state’s peanut fields.

“When I first started seeing this (tomato spotted wilt virus) problem, I said, ‘This is going to put us out of the peanut business,” said peanut farmer Charlie Cromley during a harvest demonstration at one of his family’s peanut fields near Springfield, Georgia.

“That’s a testament to the research at UGA, which has supported the peanut industry in this state. We were facing a big problem, and they found some cultural practices and other methods that we could use to control the problem before it became too widespread.”

The tour also gave farmers the chance to demonstrate how they’ve put the latest research into action. At the Boddiford Farm in Sylvania, Georgia, father and son team Joe and Knapp Boddiford showcased how new precision agriculture technologies have reduced the amount of water they use to irrigate their crop and how it has resulted in more productive peanut plants.

Today, peanut researchers are working to identify more insect- and disease-resistant peanut varieties, better weed control measures and more productive cultural practices to help solve emerging problems in Georgia’s peanut fields.

For more information about the impact of the UGA Peanut Team, visit peanuts.caes.uga.edu.

View 2018 Georgia Peanut Tour photos from the University of Georgia and the Georgia Peanut Commission.

By Merritt Melancon, news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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Cotton/Peanut Research Field Day set for Sept. 5, 2018, in Tifton, Georgia

2017_ugacottonpnutfieldday_63s_webThe Georgia Cotton Commission, Georgia Peanut Commission and the University of Georgia Extension Cotton and Peanut Teams, will co-sponsor a joint research field day on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Tifton, Georgia.

The field day will start at 8:00 a.m. at the University of Georgia Conference Center (15 RDC Rd., Tifton, Georgia) before relocating to the RDC Pivot and Ponder Farm to view research trials. Those planning to attend need to RSVP by Friday, Aug. 31, to Jeannie Evans at jevans12@uga.edu or 229-386-3006.

The purpose of the tour is to showcase current research, which is funded by the respective commissions, in plot-side presentations by the researchers themselves. The sponsors’ goal is to provide an educational environment for cotton and peanut farmers and give them the opportunity to pose questions directly to the researchers and to express opinions and concerns pertinent to the production of their crops.

Chairmen of the peanut and cotton commissions, Armond Morris and Bart Davis, respectively, agree this event gives farmers the distinct opportunity to interact with the leadership of each commission, other farmers and industry representatives. It is an excellent place for farmers to observe, first-hand, the research programs funded by their checkoff investments.

To view an agenda, visit www.georgiacottoncommission.org or www.gapeanuts.com.

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Applications are now being accepted for Peanut Leadership Academy Class XI

2009leaderlogoApplications are now being accepted for Class XI of the Peanut Leadership Academy. To be eligible for participation, candidates must derive their primary livelihood from farming and currently produce peanuts, make a commitment to the program and agree to attend all sessions except in times of illness or a family emergency, be between the ages of 22 and 45 and provide a completed application.

The Peanut Leadership Academy is a cooperative effort between Syngenta Crop Protection, the American Peanut Shellers Association and grower organizations. The program began in 1998 with the first class of 14 peanut growers from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Since then, the academy has grown to include growers from Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and sheller representatives.

During the program, participants are taught how to become more effective spokespeople for the peanut industry, develop industry relationships and further grow their leadership skills. Five sessions take place throughout the 18-month class and require approximately 20 days of travel. During the sessions, activities are structured to give participants a thorough understanding of the United States peanut industry and include industry tours, meetings with industry leaders and professional development training. Each class also has one leadership session in Washington, D.C. where participants have an opportunity to visit with members of congress on issues affecting the peanut industry.

To download a copy of the upcoming class application, visit www.southernpeanutfarmers.org. Applications must be postmarked by Oct. 15, 2018, for consideration. The first session will begin in December 2018.

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USDA Adds New Tools, Resources to Farmers.gov to Aid Producers

Agricultural producers have new resources available to them to prepare for and recover from impacts of natural disasters on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new website, farmers.gov. The site has updated tools and information to help agricultural producers identify the right programs and make decisions for their operations.

“Agriculture is a risky business,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “At USDA, we’re here to help you prepare, recover, and build long-term resilience to natural disasters. Whether you want to visit your local USDA service center or visit our new farmers.gov, we want to help you get the help you need.”

New additions to the site – being built for farmers, by farmers – include a farmers.gov portal for secure business transactions and a disaster assistance discovery tool. The discovery tool walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. The farmers.gov portal is the first edition of a secure dashboard for producers to manage program applications and other USDA documents.

These resources are in addition to other currently available through Farmers.gov, including:

  • Our mobile-friendly Service center locator, connecting users with USDA assistance at the location nearest them,
  • Information about the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program, which provides disaster payments to producers to offset losses from hurricanes and wildfires during 2017,
  • Routinely updated farmers.gov blog where producers can read stories about other farmers across the nation containing insight into how other producers address challenges in running successful agricultural operations,
  • A soil health webpage, where producers can read about the soil health management practices offered by USDA, and
  • An online playbook, where people can track the latest developments of the site.farmersgovweblogo

To watch a message from Secretary Perdue regarding Farmers.gov, you may click the above image or view Secretary Perdue’s message.

“USDA’s vision for farmers.gov is to provide farmers, ranchers and foresters with online self-service applications, educational materials, engagement opportunities and business tools,” Perdue said. “Our goal is to provide you, America’s farmers, with the best customer service, and this website is one of many ways we’re working to do so.”

USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency are collaborating with partners in the government and private sector to build farmers.gov. Work began in fall 2017, and the site launched in 2018.

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Georgia Peanut Commission seeks National Peanut Board nominees for Alternate position

NPB-PrimaryLogoThe Georgia Peanut Commission seeks eligible peanut producers who are interested in serving as an alternate member on the National Peanut Board. The Georgia Peanut Commission will hold a nominations election to select two nominees for alternate position to the National Peanut Board during a meeting on Sept. 13, 2018, at noon at the GPC headquarters in Tifton, Ga. All eligible peanut producers are encouraged to participate. Eligible producers are those who are engaged in the production and sale of peanuts and who own or share the ownership and risk of loss of the crop.

Neil Lee of Bronwood, Ga., serves as the current alternate for the state of Georgia. The term for the current Georgia alternate expires Dec. 31, 2018.

The United States Department of Agriculture requires two nominees from each state for the alternate position. The National Peanut Board will submit Georgia’s slate of nominees to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who makes the appointments.

The National Peanut Board encourages inclusion of persons of any race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and marital or family status. NPB encourages all persons who qualify as peanut producers to attend the meeting and run for nomination.

It is USDA’s policy that membership on industry-government boards and committees accurately reflect the diversity of individuals served by the programs.

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About the Georgia Peanut Commission
The Georgia Peanut Commission has been working on the behalf of Georgia’s peanut farmers since 1961 in the areas of promotion, research and education.

About the National Peanut Board
The National Peanut Board represents all USA peanut farmers and their families. The mission of the Board is to improve the economic condition of USA peanut farmers and their families through compelling promotion and groundbreaking research.

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Deadline Approaches for Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

USDAFarm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce reminded producers recently that the deadline to sign up for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is Friday, Aug. 17, 2018.

“Any agricultural producer that has eligible land should review the benefits of this program,” said Fordyce.  “It removes from production marginal, erodible land and, in doing so, improves water quality, increases wildlife habitat and provides more opportunities for recreational activities, including fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.”

For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices.

FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup.

USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less.

CRP Grasslands

Additionally, FSA established new ranking criteria for CRP grasslands. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated equally, applicants who previously applied (prior to the current sign-up period) will be asked to reapply using the new ranking criteria.

About CRP

In return for enrolling land in CRP, USDA, through FSA on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), provides participants that remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.

Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers, ranchers and private landowners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species.

The new changes to CRP do not impact the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a related program offered by CCC and state partners.

Producers wanting to apply for the CRP continuous signup or CRP grasslands should contact their USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit https://www.farmers.gov. More information on CRP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

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July/August 2018 Southeastern Peanut Farmer

The July/August 2018 issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available online.
Click here!

julyaugsepf2018_cvrThis issue features:

  • APRES celebrates 50 years
  • Harvest Guidebook
  • Georgia Peanut Tour set for September
  • Industry awards at USA Peanut Congress
  • Check off reports from the state grower organizations
  • Legislative Update
  • Southern Peanut Growers Update
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Georgia Peanut Tour set for September

gpt_logo_flatThe thirty-second annual Georgia Peanut Tour will be held September 18-20, 2018, in Savannah, Georgia, and the surrounding area. The tour brings the latest information on peanuts while giving a first-hand view of industry infrastructure from production and handling to processing and utilization. Tour stops will be made in several peanut producing counties including Bulloch, Burke, Candler and Screven County.

Attendees can expect to see first-hand nearly every aspect of peanut production in the state. This year’s tour hosts many exciting stops including on-farm harvest demonstrations and clinics, research at the University of Georgia Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center and a tour of the Georgia Port Authority in Savannah.

The tour kicks off this year with the Hot Topics Seminar on Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. at Crosswinds Golf Club, Savannah, Georgia. The seminar topics include an update on the 2018 Georgia peanut crop and a special focus on the export market.

The Georgia Peanut Commission, University of Georgia-Tifton Campus and Griffin Campus, Southwest Research & Education Center, Attapulgus Research & Education Center, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service National Peanut Research Lab coordinate the tour.

Hotel accommodations can be made at the Hilton Garden Inn Savannah Airport in Savannah, Georgia by calling 912-964-5550. Rooms are available at the rate of $129 plus tax for a standard room. Be sure to ask for the Georgia Peanut Tour room block. The room block deadline is Aug. 19, 2018.

Visit georgiapeanuttour.com to register and view tour schedule. The  early bird registration rate is $75 prior to Aug. 10, 2018. For more information, contact Hannah Jones at 229-386-3470 or via email at hannah@gapeanuts.com.

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USDA announces one week left to complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture

Census17_Phase3_Button_300x250The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) ends all data collection for the 2017 Census of Agriculture on July 31. Anyone who received the Census questionnaire is required by law to respond by that date, and they can complete the form online at www.agcensus.usda.gov or by calling toll-free (888) 424-7828.

“The Census of Agriculture, conducted once every five years, provides the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “Your information helps ensure that future decisions about U.S. agriculture represent you, your industry, and your community.”

“Every response matters, even the ones that tell us you are not, or are no longer, a farm,” continued Hamer. “If you received a 2017 Census of Agriculture, we need to hear from you by July 31.”

The same law that requires response – Federal law, Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113 – also requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and to only publish data in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.

Data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture is planned to be released in February 2019.

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UGA crop geneticists awarded $935,000 to breed softer cotton and more resilient peanuts

PeanutsOnPlantSMALLThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) plant breeders almost $1 million in grants this fiscal year to produce improved cotton and peanut varieties.

These plant breeders have been tapped to make Georgia’s most profitable row crops more sustainable and productive.

Searching for softer cotton

Regents’ Professor Andrew Paterson, director of the Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory and member of the CAES Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the Franklin College departments of Plant Biology and Genetics, and Peng Chee, his fellow crop and soil sciences professor, are pinpointing cotton genes that affect the length of cotton fibers.

Longer fibers lead to softer cotton fabrics and a higher per-pound price for farmers.

Paterson and Chee will focus on upland cotton, which is a common name for the cotton species most widely grown in the U.S. Georgia farmers grew more than 1 million acres and $967 million worth of upland cotton in 2016.

Upland cotton typically produces cotton with short or medium fibers, and those fibers can be even shorter if the cotton plant is stressed. However, mutations of upland cotton created by the researchers produce longer fibers.

Supported by a $490,000 NIFA grant, Paterson and Chee will map genes connected to superior fiber qualities in this mutated upland cotton. Eventually, they will incorporate those genes into cotton varieties known for their hardiness, productivity and efficiency.

“The long-term goal of the proposed project is to enrich genetic diversity and accelerate the breeding progress in the elite gene pool of one the most economically important and genetically vulnerable major U.S. crops: cotton,” Paterson said.

For more information on Paterson and Chee’s proposal, visit tinyurl.com/uplandcotton.

Looking to the peanut’s roots

The average American eats about 6 pounds of peanuts a year. To meet that demand, farmers in Georgia grow more than 700,000 acres of the state’s signature legume.

For each of those acres, farmers invest between $500 and $770 into seeds, pesticides, irrigation and herbicides. Tapping into the resilience of the peanut’s wild ancestors should substantially bring down that per-acre price, said Soraya Leal-Bertioli, UGA senior research scientist.

Bertioli, who worked with the international team of scientists that traced the evolution of the modern peanut to its wild ancestors in the Andes Mountains in 2016, received a $445,000 grant from NIFA to find the genetic traits that protected ancient peanuts from fungal and insect problems as well as other diseases.

“In the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, hundreds of wild peanut populations were collected from the wild and deposited in the USDA seed bank,” she said. “Several studies show that these species carry resistance to pests and diseases that affect the peanut crop.”

Most of these species have never been bred with modern varieties. By using modern techniques, Bertioli hopes to introduce these ancient, naturally-occurring resistance traits into modern lines of productive peanuts.

Breeding peanut varieties with the resistance of their wild relatives that can keep up with modern production levels will allow farmers to produce peanuts with fewer chemicals at a lower cost.

For more information on Bertioli’s proposal, visit tinyurl.com/sustainablepeanuts.

By Merritt Melancon

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