Published on 09/19/13

Georgia Peanut Tour an educational experience for industry personnel

By Clint Thompson

One of Georgia’s top agricultural commodities was showcased this week as part of an annual peanut tour throughout south Georgia.

Approximately 150 peanut scientists, producers and industry experts were in Moultrie and Tifton on Wednesday to talk about the latest news and research being conducted within Georgia’s $2 billion industry.

“It’s important because we bring the buyers of the peanut products to Georgia at the start of harvest to see the quality effort, in regards to all stages — from the grower level all the way to the processing end,” said John Beasley, University of Georgia peanut agronomist on the Tifton campus.

“Quality is the main issue, and we want them to buy Georgia peanuts. We want them to know we have the highest quality peanuts.”

Georgia leads the nation in peanut production with 48 percent of the country’s crop coming from the state.

The Georgia Peanut Tour, now in its 27th year, started on Tuesday with a hot topics seminar in Valdosta. On Wednesday, the tour moved to Moultrie for a demonstration of unmanned aerial vehicles, and how they could potentially impact the peanut crop. In Tifton, the tour stopped at the UGA Gibbs Farm. Researchers from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences discussed various peanut-related topics, from nematode damage to insects and diseases.

“We try to let these folks know how connected the UGA Peanut Team is with the peanut industry. We’re very responsive to the state level of what our producers need in regards to research. All of our research focuses on economics, obviously. They’ve got to be economically profitable and sustainable,” Beasley said.

The number of participants attending the tour has consistently stayed around the 150 mark since the tour’s inception in 1987, Beasley said. What has changed, however, are the faces. Newly hired personnel are sent by peanut companies to learn more about the peanut industry.

“What we’ve noticed is the companies — major peanut processors — when they hire new people, the first thing is, ‘You want to learn how peanuts are grown? You go on the Georgia Peanut Tour.’ Over a three-day period you will see peanuts being grown, research being done, peanuts being handled at the buying points,” Beasley said. “It really allows someone new to come in and gain experience.”

The Georgia Peanut Tour is sponsored by UGA, the Georgia Peanut Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The tour concluded on Thursday with farm stops in Brooks County and Lowndes County.

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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