Hundreds visit for ‘Peanut Tour’

Published 7:57 pm Friday, September 30, 2011

Photos by Justin Schuver VISITORS TO THE GEORGIA PEANUT TOUR listen Wednesday morning as Professor Albert Culbreath talks about a variety of peanuts grown at the Attapulgus Research and Education Center.

More than 200 peanut farmers, researchers and other representatives of the peanut industry visited Decatur County this past week for the 25th annual Georgia Peanut Tour.

The participants came from approximately 12 states and several foreign nations, including Argentina and Egypt. The goal of the tour, which is administered through the Georgia Peanut Commission, is to show visitors methods and technologies used by Southwest Georgia farmers — methods that could be used in the visitors’ states and countries as well.

The tour was held from Tuesday through Thursday, and included visits to the Attapulgus Research and Education Center and several local farms, as well as sites in Blakeley, Donalsonville and Miller County.

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The first stop on the tour Wednesday morning was the Attapulgus Research and Education Center (AREC), where Center Superintendent Billy Mills helped show visitors the facility. At the AREC, which is maintained by the University of Georgia, scientists cultivate peanuts in a variety of simulated weather and pest situations.

“You’ll see insects that have eaten plants on the top of the ground, and insects that have eaten the crop below the ground,” he said. “You’ll see nematodes that have destroyed plants. Most growers would be upset to see these things, but here, we’re proud of them.

“We have these peanut problems in abundance and it allows for us to experiment and work to solve problems that face farmers around the world.”

The hundreds of visitors sat atop truck-drawn-trailers that transported them through the massive AREC farms, stopping at several points to learn about specific peanut varities or experiments taking place at the AREC.

At one point in the tour, Professor Albert Culbreath showed an example of a peanut crop that had been purposely treated with a specific variety of fungus.

“This is a special rust that doesn’t really affect our plants in Georgia,” he said. “This particular variety of rust is prevalent more in Central and South America. But we can experiment on it here with different varieties, and hopefully the farmers down there will be able to use some of work to battle that problem.”

Dr. Joe West, assistant dean for the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, spoke glowingly of the work done at the AREC and other facilities.

“I can say with a lot of confidence that we have some of the best research and extension scientists in the country,” he said. “When we make a recommendation to the industry, you know that we’ve tested it in multiple soil types, climates and other situations.”

Other Decatur County stops for the Georgia Peanut Tour included the Dollar Brothers, Inc., buying point, the Jerry and Justin Long farm, Barber Fertilizer Company and Glenn Heard Farms.

Tuesday’s schedule concluded with a low country boil for tour participants at the Performing Arts Center in the Earle May Boat Basin.