An estimated 2,000 visitors interested in Georgia’s thriving peanut industry gathered at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center Thursday for the Georgia Peanut Farm Show. Paired with the more than 100 exhibitors that filled nearly every space available, there was no shortage of information about the state’s signature agricultural product.
“The response has been awesome,” said Dr. Joe West, assistant dean of the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Everyone that I’ve talked to says it’s just such a great event. Not only is the event good but the venue here at the UGA Tifton Campus is good. There’s a lot of space, a lot of linearity for the big exhibits so people don’t get bunched up. You feel like you have a lot of space so you can get around and see everything.”
Visitors had many opportunities to learn more about the latest innovations in the field at the UGA Peanut Production Seminar. Topics covered everything from insect management to using unmanned aerial vehicles for detection of field problems.
There was also discussion of different seed varieties available now and those that are on the horizon.
The show, which the UGA Tifton Campus hosted for the second year, is important for farmers who are in the process of making decisions regarding this year’s planting that will be vital to their profitability.
“They have to determine if they’re using the right seed, the right technology, the right irrigation technology,” Dr. West said. “That could all determine how profitable they are. Peanut yields over the last 30 years or so have doubled or almost tripled. That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because of a lot of hard work by scientists. There is a lot of research that’s been done and being made available to producers that will help insure that they make more yield.”
Exhibitors ran the agricultural gamut, including financial institutions, chemical companies, equipment dealers and industry advocacy organizations. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who just began his final year representing Georgia in Washington, was also on hand to lend his support to the industry.
The ability to gather all of that information in one location has bolstered the show’s reputation among industry officials and farmers, resulting in the huge crowd. As well as conducting the information seminars, UGA scientists also had time to speak one on one with those who had questions about the latest developments in the field.
“They’re the rock stars of the peanut industry,” Dr. West said. “The farmers recognize that what the scientists do is going to help determine where the peanut industry goes, and where the individual goes as well from a profitability standpoint. You get to hear from them, see all of the exhibits and eat a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich as well. You can’t beat that.”
The Georgia Peanut Commission presented awards to individuals and businesses for their service to the peanut industry and promotion of peanuts across the U.S. The award recipients are: Distinguished Service Award, Sen. John Bulloch, retired chairman of the Georgia State Senate Agriculture Committee; Research and Education Award, John Beasley, retired University of Georgia peanut agronomist; Media Award, WALB News Team in Albany; and Special Award, Rick Treptow, retired broadcaster for Georgia Farm Bureau. Also, Emory Murphy, GPC assistant executive director, was honored with the Georgia Peanut Distinguished Service Award and the Georgia Peanut Research and Education Award, for his dedication to the Georgia Peanut Commission for nearly 40 years.
The Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer Award was presented to Randy Branch of Baxley. The award is presented to one Georgia peanut farmer based upon the applicant’s overall farm operation; environmental and stewardship practices; and leadership and community service activities. This year’s winner demonstrates volunteerism and service to agriculture in his area. Branch developed his passion for farming while growing up on a diversified row crop operation including corn, soybeans and wheat. Today, the farming operation consists of 4,000 acres of crops including peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat.
Branch received a sign to display at his farm and a trip to the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in July. This award is sponsored by the Georgia Peanut Commission and Bayer CropScience.
The Georgia Peanut Commission and Agri Supply presented the inaugural Outstanding Georgia Peanut Farmers of the Year Award to individuals representing each of the commission’s five districts. The GPC board members started this award to honor farmers each year who have the passion, diligence, leadership and desire to see the peanut industry in the state of Georgia continue to be the highest quality.
Winners include: District 1, Charlie Burch, Newton; District 2, Jerald Carter, Anderson City; District 3, Jimmy Blitch, Statesboro; District 4, W.H. “Finn” Cross, Unadilla; and District 5, Harold Israel, Smithville.
These farmers received a sign to display at their farm and a $100 gift card from Agri Supply.
At the close of the day, the presentation of the grand door prize donated by Kelley Manufacturing Company was presented to Ron McMickle of Donalsonville. McMickle received one season’s use of a new 4- or 6-row KMC peanut combine.
Amadas Industries also provided a grower door prize of $10,000 off the purchase of a peanut combine to Ken Moore of Blakely.
For photos and additional information on the Georgia Peanut Farm Show, visit the Georgia Peanut Commission website at www.gapeanuts.com.
Editor’s Note: Joy Crosby with the Georgia Peanut Commission contributed to this article.