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Farming the Delta Irrigation Guidebook Expo Field Day

A communication service of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.

Contents May/June 2017


Joy Carter Crosby Editor 229-386-3690

Peanut production has been growing during recent years in Mississippi, especially in the Mississippi Delta. Learn more about farming in the Delta, which has become the largest peanut producing region in the state.

Director of Advertising Jessie Bland Contributing Writers John Leidner Teresa Mays Southeastern Peanut Farmer P.O. Box 706, Tifton, Ga. 31793 445 Fulwood Blvd., Tifton, Ga. 31794 ISSN: 0038-3694 Southeastern Peanut Farmer is published six times a year (Jan./Feb., March, April, May/June, July/Aug., and Oct./Nov.) by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. The publisher is not responsible for copy omission, typographical errors, or any unintentional errors that may occur, other than to correct it in the following issue. Any erroneous reflection which may occur in the columns of Southeastern Peanut Farmer will be corrected upon brought to the attention of the editor. (Phone 229-3863690.) Postmaster: Send address changes (Form 3579) to Southeastern Peanut Farmer, P.O. Box 706, Tifton, Georgia, 31793. Circulation is free to qualified peanut growers and others allied to the industry. Periodical postage paid at Tifton, Georgia and additional mailing office. Editorial Content: Editorial copy from sources outside of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation is sometimes presented for the information and interest of our members. Such material may, or may not, coincide with official Southern Peanut Farmers Federation policies. Publication of material does not necessarily imply its endorsement by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. For editorial concerns call 229-386-3690. No portion of this or past issues of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written consent of the editor. By-lined articles appearing in this publication represent views of the authors and not necessarily those of the publisher. Advertising: The Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertisement. Corrections to advertisements must be made after the first run. All billing offers subject to credit review. Advertisements contained in this publication do not represent an endorsement by the Southeastern Peanut Farmer or the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation. Use of trade names in this publication is for the purpose of providing specific information and is not a guarantee nor warranty of products named. For advertising concerns call 229-386-3690.

Farming the Delta


Irrigation Guidebook The 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer’s Irrigation Guidebook features information on soil sensors, PeanutFARM, irrigation economics, Irrigator Pro updates and variable rate irrigation.


Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day set for July 13 World-renowned research by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences scientists will be featured at this year’s Sunbelt Field Day in Moultrie, Georgia. More than 600 acres of agricultural research will be on display during the field day.

Departments: Checkoff Report .................................................................................. 10 Alabama Peanut Producers Association, Florida Peanut Producers Association, Georgia Peanut Commission and Mississippi Peanut Growers Association

Washington Outlook ............................................................................ 20 Southern Peanut Growers Update ........................................................ 22 Cover Photo: Furrow irrigation, seen here at Providence Plantation, is what makes peanut farming different in the Mississippi Delta. Photo by John Leidner.

May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer



Calendar of Events

Painting Details on the Farm ave you ever stopped to watch an artist at work? To see the details that go into their painting or the variety of brushes used to obtain the right look. During the past few months at the Georgia Peanut Commission, local artist Jill Whitley, has been in the office painting peanut murals on the wall in our lobby. It has been amazing to watch how she begins with black paint for the foundation and then adds layer by layer until she has the completed peanut field or tractor with planter. Each detail is unique from the sunrise sky at the beginning of the mural to the fall color in the leaves on the trees for the section of the mural depicting peanut harvest. She doesn’t miss a detail. As I have watched her artwork go from a slate of black paint to a wonderful creation, I can’t help to be reminded of how God must have felt when he created this Earth. Also, I’m reminded of how you as farmers begin with a blank slate each year before you begin planting your crops. I guess it’s not entirely a blank slate since you have rotation management plan in place so you basically know which crops you are going to plant in which field. However, what you may not be prepared or ready for is the unknown weather patterns or weed, insect or disease pressure your crop may face this season. However, as farmers, you take pride in your work and focus on all of the details like an artist chooses her paint brushes carefully. These details help you make the best decisions for your crop. By the time you read this your peanut stand will be up and you will be well on your way to painting that harvest for this fall. So, I hope your harvest turns out as beautiful as the one that is being painted in the lobby at our office. t


u USA Peanut Congress, June 24-28, 2017, Amelia Island, Fla. For more information visit or call 229888-2508. u American Peanut Research Education Society Annual Meeting, July 11-13, 2017, Alburquerque, NM. For more information visit or call 229-3292949. u Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day, July 13, 2017, Moultrie, Ga. For more information visit or call 229-985-1968. u Southern Peanut Growers Conference, July 20-22, 2017, Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, Miramar Beach, Fla. For more information visit or call 229-386-3470. u American Peanut Shellers Association and National Peanut Buying Points Association Pre-Harvest Meeting, Aug. 1-2, 2017, Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club, Cordele, Ga. For more information visit or call 229-888-2508.

u Brooklet Peanut Festival, Aug. 19, 2017. For more information visit the festival’s website at u Plains Peanut Festival, Sept. 23, 2017. For more information visit

Joy Carter Crosby Editor

Alabama peanut growers approve referendum Peanut producers in Alabama voted on April 27, 2017 to approve the continuation of a statewide peanut check-off program with a 99 percent favorable vote for support. Under state law, the check-off program must be voted on every three years. Twenty-eight polling sites were located in twenty-three counties where peanuts are produced. The Alabama Peanut Producers Association administers the check-off program. Alabama is the second largest producer of peanuts in the United States. APPA President, Carl Sanders, said the board appreciates the strong showing of support. “I know the board of directors shares my appreciation,” he says. “The check-off program funds many research and educational activities that would not exist if not for the program. These programs directly impact our industry on an annual basis.”


Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

u Central Florida Peanut Festival, Oct. 7, 2017, Williston, Fla. For more information visit u Sunbelt Ag Expo, Oct. 17-19, 2017, Moultrie, Ga. For more information visit or call 229-985-1968.

u Georgia Peanut Festival, Oct. 21, 2017, Sylvester, Ga. For more information visit u National Peanut Festival, Nov. 3-12, 2017, Dothan, Ala. For more information visit u Georgia Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-5, 2017, Jekyll Island, Ga. For more information visit

(Let us know about your event. Please send details to the editor at

Farming the



Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

The Mississippi Delta is the distinctive northwest section of the U.S. state of Mississippi which lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers.

eanut production has been growing during recent years in Mississippi, especially in the Mississippi Delta. The Delta has become the largest peanut producing region in the state. “It’s a well-kept secret that more than 50 percent of the Mississippi peanut acreage is in the Delta,” says Malcolm Broome, executive director of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association. “Not many people know that a big percentage of the soil in the Delta is ideal for growing peanuts. This sandy loam soil is also called ‘ice cream’ soil and it is great for peanuts.” The Delta also has its share of so-called “buckshot” soils such as the Sharkey clay soil series that is poorly drained and generally not good for growing peanuts. “There’s a mystique about farming in the Mississippi Delta,” Broome says. “The popular image for the region is that of the large scale cotton plantation.” Cotton acreage, however, has declined in the Delta during recent years, mainly due to low prices and damaging plant bugs. Meanwhile, peanuts have become one of


Mississippi Extension associate Stephen Leininger, left, and Baylor Travis with Providence Plantation near Tchula, Miss., check out the 2016 peanut crop.

the crops to take cotton’s place. Farming is fast and furious in the Delta, especially during the fall, according to Broome. “Farmers in the Delta go wide open, picking their cotton, soybeans and corn crops just as fast as they can,” Broome says. “But when they started growing peanuts, they had to learn how to slow down because harvesting peanuts is a slow process.” Broome says he wouldn’t be surprised to see peanut acreage triple in the Delta during the next five years. The Delta leads the state in peanut acreage with Holmes County farmers growing more than 5,000 acres. According to Mississippi Extension peanut agronomist Jason Sarver, the Delta has more yield potential than any other area in the state on average based on soil types and the percentage of irrigated acres. Soil moisture conditions can complicate peanut farming in the slow-todrain soils of the Delta, according to Sarver. He says peanut soils in the Delta

have more organic matter and a higher cation exchange capacity than peanut soils in other parts of the Southeast. “That’s why we can make good peanut crops even during years when we get no rain from July 4 through mid to late August,” Sarver says. “Wetter soils can keep you out of the fields during the spring when the crop needs to be planted, and during the fall when digging needs to take place.” Peanuts in the northern part of the Delta grow at about the same latitude as peanuts in Oklahoma. As a result, Sarver says peanut growers in the Delta need short season varieties. He’s evaluating some short season runner varieties from the Texas-based Algrano peanut seed company. He says one of the Algrano varieties matures about two weeks earlier than Georgia-06G. Delta peanut farmers have also been warned not to rotate peanuts with soybeans. As farmers have increased soybean plantings, some soybean-peanut continued on page 8

May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer


Farming the Delta continued from page 7

rotations may be inevitable. Sarver says he tells farmers to plan on increasing fungicide inputs if they rotate peanuts with soybeans. In Mississippi, the Delta is not really a delta but is actually an alluvial plain. It lies generally between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, about 70 miles across at its widest point and stretching some 200 miles between Memphis and Vicksburg. Flooding over many years has flattened the land in the Delta. Since the land is so flat, flood irrigation has emerged as the irrigation method of choice for many of the Delta farms. In fact, flood or furrow irrigation is what sets peanut production in the Delta apart from peanuts grown in other parts of the U.S. Broome says the state’s peanut farmers are helping to fund irrigation research aimed at showing if furrow irrigation is needed on every row or every other row, and if furrow irrigation can be used to deliver fungicides in a way that will benefit peanut plants. Farmers with center pivot irrigation know they can water in their fungicides to improve control of southern blight or white mold. Center pivot irrigation helps to wash the fungicides from the leaves into the soil. This can’t be done with furrow irrigation because the water moves along the soil surface and below the foliage where most of the sprayed on fungicides are deposited. Jason Krutz, Mississippi Extension irrigation specialist, is helping to conduct some of these studies. With furrow irrigation, results are not as consistent as with center pivot irrigation, according to Krutz. One of his studies is aimed at injecting fungicides into the furrow irrigation water as an alternative form of chemigation. Groundwater supplies in the Delta are gradually declining, however the area generally has an abundance of surface water that can be used for irrigation. Krutz says the availability of water is one of the reasons that peanut production has increased in the Delta. Krutz says it’s not unusual for the large, flat fields in the Delta to have rows that are 2,000 feet long. “It can take up to three days, a long running time, to completely water some of these fields with furrow irrigation,” Krutz says.


Extension peanut specialist Jason Sarver, standing, works with these Mississippi Delta peanut growers, from left, B. Jones, Daniel Parrish and Corley Moses.

Stephen Leininger, an Extension associate, is assisting Krutz with the irrigation studies. Leininger works in peanut plots at the Delta Research & Extension Center in Stoneville, and on peanut farms with furrow irrigation in the Delta. One of Leininger’s irrigation projects is at Providence Plantation near Tchula, Mississippi. There, he is using Watermark soil moisture sensors placed at six, 12 and 18 inches deep in the soil. He’s showing that it’s possible to save on irrigation costs by using the soil sensors to schedule irrigation applications. For instance, in one of Leininger’s 2016 tests, the sensors called for one irrigation application compared to three or four applications when relying on a checkbook scheduling system. Daniel Parrish of Greenwood, Mississippi, has been growing peanuts in the Delta since 2008. He primarily rotates peanuts with corn. His variety of choice has been Georgia-06G during recent years. “I’d like to grow a shorter season variety,” he says. He noted that rains during November can extend the harvesting season. “The soils can get too wet to get into the fields,” Parrish says. “In 2009, for instance, we were still harvesting peanuts the week before Christmas.” With furrow irrigation, Parrish says the ground is more saturated than it is with center pivot irrigation. “You also have to watch closely for peanut diseases

Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

when the soil is saturated,” Parrish says. B. Jones of Yazoo City, Mississippi, has been growing peanuts in the Delta since 2010. Jones farms about 600 acres of peanuts each year with his brother Will. He started growing the Georgia-06G variety and in recent years has been raising the high oleic Florida-07 variety of runner peanuts. Jones rotates peanuts with cotton, and tries to plant two years of cotton before growing peanuts. He says he farms in an area where Delta land meets hill land, and he uses both furrow and center pivot irrigation. Corley Moses of Greenwood, Mississippi, started growing peanuts in 2009 and now grows 400 to 500 acres each year. He’s also a Georgia-06G grower, and says his yields typically follow weather patterns, with dryland yields at about 3,700 pounds per acre while irrigated yields reach 5,700 to 5,800-pounds. Due to his crop rotation, Moses did not irrigate his peanuts in 2016. Thanks to late rains that season, he was able to harvest yields of about 4,500 pounds per acre Corn is the primary rotation crop for Moses, but he has also had good results by including a crop of sesame in his rotation. “Sesame is a good rotation crop for peanuts,” Moses says. “We’ve seen no increase in diseases for peanuts that follow sesame.” t BY JOHN LEIDNER

2020 strategic plan positions peanuts for optimist future o make sure that positive momentum continues into the future – and to keep growers prepared for potential challenges that could arise – the National Peanut Board approved a new strategic plan at its quarterly meeting April 5-6 in Starkville, Mississippi. The plan establishes measurable goals and strategies for the organization’s work through the end of FY20 in October 2020, and ensures it focuses on the most important opportunities and needs ahead. “Per capita peanut consumption is at an all-time high,” says Bob Parker, president and CEO of the National Peanut Board. “Groundbreaking research is providing hope for millions everywhere, after years of a steady drumbeat of negative peanut allergy news. Overall, the future looks bright for peanut growers and the entire industry.” Led by Andy Bell, Georgia’s representative to the board, the committee has been working together since late 2016 to develop the plan. “If you remember nothing else about the new strategic plan, remember this: the National Peanut Board exists to improve the economic conditions for peanut farmers and their families,” says Ed White, NPB board chair and Alabama grower. “Grower economics has always been our focus. But we took this opportunity to revise our mission statement so it is as measurable and strong as it can be.” With a new mission statement in place, the strategic planning committee updated NPB’s values and guiding principles. Those values all point to continuing to find innovative ways to grow a wholesome, healthy and sustainable product to feed a growing planet and operating with openness and transparency. “At the end of the day, we’ll know we’ve been successful when people are thinking about peanuts differently, talking about peanuts positively and engaging with peanuts more often,” Bell explains. “Ultimately, they’ll be buying more


peanuts overall – and the per capita consumption will move from 7.4 pounds today to 8.0 pounds at the end of 2020.” Bell adds that to reach the per capita goal, the board will focus on five key strategies: (1) increasing peanut relevance among millennials, (2) maximizing the value of production research dollars, (3) removing barriers to consumption and advancing food allergy progress, (4) increasing understanding of the board’s value among all growers and (5) expanding exports through targeted opportunities. Over the past two years, NPB has also transitioned to a new look and feel for the board’s materials and digital and

social properties. Most notably, the board overhauled its main website to better appeal to consumers who are seeking more information about their food and looking to purchase from brands and companies that act authentically. A key element of NPB’s brand – a new brand mark – was also approved at the quarterly board meeting in April. The new mark features an updated typeface and treatment of the peanut icon, which integrates an American flag with stars representing each of the major peanut growing states. A new optional line, “America’s Peanut Farmers,” will help build awareness of U.S.A. quality during the board’s export opportunities. The new brand mark will continue to be used in conjunction with the Perfectly Powerful Peanut icon, adopted in 2014, for trade and consumer marketing materials. t

May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer


Checkoff Report Investments Made by Growers for the Future of the Peanut Industry.

Students learn about peanuts in Alabama Alabama Peanut Producers Association continues to educate students throughout the state by participating in ag day events with school systems. Banks School recently hosted Kindergarten Day for students in the Pike

Pictured is APPA board member Billy Hixon who is also peanut grower in the Banks, Ala.

County, Alabama, school system. A variety of agriculture booths were visited by 150 students who participated in the event. The Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) hosted the Peanut Patch display where students learned how peanuts grow and the numerous products made from peanuts. The Blount County-Oneonta, Alabama, Agri-Business Center recently hosted the Kids Day on the Farm. This event is sponsored by numerous local farm-related businesses. A variety of farm animals were on hand for children to become acquainted with including: chickens, roosters, rabbits, goats, llamas, cows, horses, dogs, cats, and other animals. The Alabama Peanut Producers

Pictured are a group of second grade students who posed in front of the peanut field backdrop during the Kids Day on the Farm in Oneonta, Ala.

Association’s exhibit explained the process of how peanuts grow and are harvested. Students also learned of numerous products made from peanuts and peanut shells.

Florida peanuts promoted at Fresh from Florida weekend at Epcot

FPPA exhibits at health fair

The Florida Peanut Producers Association and other members of the “Fresh From Florida” promotion campaign returned to Epcot again this year for the Fresh From Florida Weekend during the International Flower and Garden Festival which runs from March through May. The Fresh From Florida Weekend is an annual three-day event hosted by Disney at Epcot in Orlando and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The event allows farmers, ranchers and commodity organizations who are members of the Fresh From Florida promotion campaign to visit with thousands of attendees and share the message of Florida agriculture. The Florida Peanut Producers Association exhibited at the Fresh From Florida Weekend and provided peanut growing seed kits, recipe cards, health and nutritional brochures. We also had live peanut plants that were blooming and pegging on display for the attendees.

The Florida Peanut Producers Association recently exhibited at a health and nutrition event for a large group of Jackson County Senior Citizens. Staff from FPPA made and served peanut butter to the group while pointing out the healthful benefits of consuming peanuts and peanut products. The group of seniors were excited to receive recipe cards, peanuts and general information about peanut production in Florida. The Peanut Institute provided Food For Thought brochures and other health and nutritional information.


Attendees at the Fresh From Florida weekend in Epcot examine peanut plants at the FPPA exhibit as Ken Barton talks about the blooming and pegging process.

“This is a great opportunity for us to visit with thousands of Disney attendees and share the healthful message of peanuts and peanut products and the importance of the economic impact that peanut production has in the state of Florida,” says Ken Barton, executive director of FPPA.

Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

Sherry Saunders, FPPA provides health and nutritional information for the attendees at the Jackson County Senior Citizens Health Fair.

Reports from the: Alabama Peanut Producers Association Florida Peanut Producers Association Georgia Peanut Commission Mississippi Peanut Growers Association

Georgia Peanut Commission attends Georgia School Nutrition meeting The Georgia Peanut Commission attended the Georgia School Nutrition Association’s annual meeting April 20-22 in Jekyll Island, Georgia, to educate school foodservice personnel about peanuts and peanut butter, as well as encourage consumption in schools across the state. During the three-day meeting, school nutrition professionals attended educational seminars, visited with food service industry representatives and received recognition for outstanding performance at their respective schools. GPC staff, along with Southern Peanut Growers representative, Leslie Wagner and Sherry Coleman Collins, registered dietician and nutritionist with the National Peanut Board, cultivated a lot of discussion on the management of peanut allergies in school foodservice. Collins hosted two educational seminars during the event titled “Can I Serve That?” The seminars focused on how to best manage food allergens so that schools can safely serve students. Her discussion had a special focus on peanuts where she discussed the facts about peanut allergies, the truth behind some common myths and best practices for managing them in the school system. In the culinary competition, GPC sponsored a peanut recipe contest recognizing GSNA members who developed new peanut and peanut butter quantity recipes to be used in Georgia schools for breakfast, lunch and snacks. GPC also sponsored a peanut usage award given to the school system with the highest per capita consumption of peanuts and peanut butter. In the breakfast category, Marie May from Lowndes High School in Lowndes County, won first place for her “Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bar” recipe; second place went to Jessie Bland (center), Georgia Peanut Commission project coordinator, presents Nichole Payne from Harmony Elementary in a check to representatives from Treutlen Gwinnett County for her recipe, “Peanut Berry County School System for having the Smoothie;” and third place went to Dinah highest per capita consumption of peanuts Collins with Washington Middle School in and peanut butter at more than 540 Grady County for her recipe, “Peanut pounds. The award was presented April 20-22, 2017, in Jekyll Island, Ga. Cheweys.” In the lunch category, first place was awarded to Cheryl Mason from Southside Elementary in Grady County for her “Peanut Butter Chicken Enchiladas” recipe; second place went to Dare Howze from Parker Mathis Learning Center in Lowndes County for her recipe, “Munchie Bars;” and third place went to Julia Thomas from Bright Star Elementary in Douglas County for her recipe, “Peanut Butter French Toast Roll Up.” In the snack category, Ginger Farmer from Omega Elementary in Tift County took home first place for her “Fun Peanut Dip” recipe; second place was awarded to Carol Winters of Treutlen County School for her recipe, “Peanut Butter Power Cookie;” and third place went to Deborah Watford from Lake Park Elementary in Lowndes County for her recipe, “Peanut Pumpkin Brownies.” In the peanut usage contest, Treutlen County School System was named the winner for having the highest per capita consumption of peanuts and peanut butter at more than 540 pounds.

Mississippi Peanut Growers sponsors Mississippi Nutrition and Dietetics Conference The Mississippi Peanut Growers Association (MPGA) sponsored the Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi, March 27 - 28, 2017 at the Biloxi Civic Center. Approximately 200 registered dietitians, licensed dietitians, and university students enrolled in a nutrition curriculum to be future dietitians attended the meeting. The Mississippi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association reaches out to Mississippi residents in a number of locations with nutrition education and seemed very receptive to continued use or expansion of peanuts and peanut products in their recommendations for clientele. Many attendees were not aware of the many ways peanuts or peanut butter could be used in a meal besides just a peanut butter cookie or sandwich. Participants gathered health and nutrition information from MPGA and recipe cards from Southern Peanut Growers.

MPGA funds research grants The Mississippi Peanut Growers Association is utilizing funds from the National Peanut Board research allocation to approve four grants with Mississippi State University researchers for 2017. These grants will involve peanut variety trials across the state, nitrogen rescue treatments, peanut rotation length as affected by the presence or absence of soybeans, and an impact study of defoliating insects on yields. This combination of funding will be the largest dollar allocation in Mississippi to peanut research since the growers organized in 2006.

May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer



IRRIGATION GUIDEBOOK Irrigation impacts peanut growth

niversity of Florida agronomy graduate student Brendan Zurweller has been studying the impacts of irrigation on peanut growth and development. During the 2015 growing season, for example, he tested irrigation treatments of



0.75 inches of water when irrigation was required based on soil tension during the entire growing season. This was compared to other treatments of 0.45 inches of water whenever irrigation was required for the entire season. Another treatment, known as Primed Acclimation (PA), included

Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

0.45 inches of water each irrigation event until mid-bloom and then 0.75 inches every application for the rest of the growing season. These treatments were also compared to a non-irrigated or rainfed treatment. Zurweller said irrigation was scheduled when Irrometer tensiometer sensors at the soil depth of one foot showed readings of 25 to 30 kPa (kilopascals, a measure of soil moisture tension). He found that early irrigation affected canopy development throughout the growing season. Using three irrigations at 26, 41 and 47 days after planting, the plots with 0.75 inches of water applied at each irrigation produced greater leaf area per unit of ground area than did the rainfed plots and the PA plots. Root growth was also impacted, but in this case, the PA treatment showed increased root growth than did the rainfed or the plots receiving 0.75 inches of irrigation. Yield results showed there were no differences among the three irrigation treatments, with reduced yields in the rainfed plots. Zurweller and his major professor Diane Rowland concluded that the PA treatment would increase root growth while maintaining yields similar to the treatments receiving 0.75 inches of irrigation. They believe that applying a reduced amount of irrigation water early in the growing season may help make peanut plants be more resilient to mid to late season water stress. t BY JOHN LEIDNER

Irrigation Guidebook

Soil sensors save on peanut irrigation eanut farmer Sam Walker of McDavid, Florida, produced 500 to 600 pounds per acre more than an adjacent field last year where he saved on expenses by scheduling irrigation according to readings obtained from soil moisture sensors. For the irrigation scheduling demonstration, Walker provided the land in the Florida Panhandle and a towable center pivot while University of Florida cropping systems agronomist Mike Mulvaney provided technical expertise on the soil moisture sensors, which were provided as part of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Best Management Practices grant. Walker uses a cotton-peanut rotation, and farms these crops in Escambia County, Florida. To schedule his irrigation in the field, he mainly relied on Watermark soil moisture sensors placed at depths of six and 12 inches in the soil. “For peanut irrigation, I’m mainly concerned about soil moisture at the sixinch depth,” Walker says. Walker watered the peanuts in the field four times during the 2016 growing season. During irrigation, he tries to apply 1.25” of water with each pass of his center pivot. He believes he could allow the soil to become a little drier before starting up the pivot to water his peanuts. Following advice from Mulvaney, Walker made the decision to irrigate his peanuts when the meter readings for the six-inch Watermark sensor reached -40 kPa (equivalent to -40 centibars). Watermark is a brand of tensiometers (more properly called a granular matrix sensor, which is able to withstand greater drought than traditional tensiometers, but still measures soil moisture tension) made by the Irrometer Company. The Watermark sensors record changes in soil moisture tension and the readings are measured in centibars or kilopascal units. The more negative the number, the drier the soil. Generally, irrigation is called for when tensiometer sensor readings are between -30 and -60 centibars, depending on the crop, soil type, soil depth, and growth stage. Readings of 0 to -10



Soil sensors helped save money on center pivot irrigation at this farm in the Florida Panhandle.

centibars indicate a soil that is saturated with water, while readings of -100 centibars indicate that a soil is dangerously dry. Mulvaney, who is based at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, Florida, tested the Watermark soil moisture sensors along with the WatchDog brand of WaterScout sensors made by Spectrum Technologies. The WatchDog WaterScout sensors measure the volumetric water content of the soil, and the readings are presented as a percent of the soil’s volume. For scheduling irrigation, Mulvaney prefers the tensiometers to the volumetric

Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

sensors. “Volumetric sensors just tell you how much water is in the soil,” he says. “It does not tell you how much pressure the roots must exert to extract water from the soil. That’s why I believe the tensiometers give more useful information.” Before using the Watermark tensiometers, Mulvaney says the sensors must be primed with wet/dry cycles prior to installation. “Where you locate the probes will be important,” Mulvaney says. He suggests avoiding small dry spots and small wet spots within a field. He tells farmers to place their probes within a large portion

Irrigation Guidebook that represents the overall growing conditions of the field or place multiple probes in different parts of the field. Mulvaney selected the six- and 12-inch depths for the sensors in Walker’s field. Mulvaney says sensor depths of eight, 16 and 24 inches are used by Georgia Extension. The deeper depths may be justified in Georgia because he says Georgia soils tend to have more sand than the soils in the western Florida Panhandle. “Early in the season, the readings from the six-inch depth are important,” Mulvaney says. “Later in the season, you can use the readings from the deeper sensor.” Mulvaney says while rodents love to chew on cables connected to the sensors, this was not a problem last year in Walker’s field. Flexible conduit can be used to protect wires, if needed. As part of the project, Mulvaney demonstrated irrigation recommendations from the sensors as well as recommendations from the PeanutFARM model (available at PeanutFARM tracks peanut growth, irrigation recommendations, and maturity using adjusted growing degree days. “Models such as PeanutFARM work as well as the data entered,” Mulvaney says, “so you should modify rainfall for your field manually if there is no weather station nearby.” PeanutFARM is a complimentary tool when using soil moisture sensors, Mulvaney says, and better than no irrigation scheduling system. Walker used rain gauges in his field to measure the rainfall and irrigation amounts needed for running the PeanutFARM model. He says he’s comfortable using both the sensors and PeanutFARM during most of the growing season, but says he would like better end-of-season information on when to stop irrigating peanuts. t BY JOHN LEIDNER

University of Florida agronomist Mike Mulvaney discusses equipment during an on-farm demonstration showing how to schedule peanut irrigation.

Effects of irrigation on yield In addition to testing several peanut irrigation scheduling systems, University of Georgia Extension irrigation specialist Wesley Porter is also reviewing how irrigated peanuts perform under both conventional and conservation tillage. The irrigation scheduling systems he is evaluating include the University of Georgia-developed Smart Sensor Array, the SmartField system that depends on crop canopy temperatures, the PeanutFARM online scheduling tool, the USDA developed IrrigatorPro and a 50 percent University of Georgia-developed checkbook method that is based on estimates for evapotranspiration. His tillage trials included tests of the Smart Sensor Array, PeanutFARM, the University of Georgia’s Easy Pan system and the University of Georgia checkbook method. During the 2016 growing season, the plots received 25.80 inches of rainfall. The IrrigatorPro system recommended 10 inches of irrigation and produced the highest

yields. Assuming costs of $6 per acre-inch of water for electricity to power irrigation systems and $9 per acre-inch for diesel powered irrigation, the IrrigatorPro system produced the greatest profits from irrigation in Porter’s tests. Porter says a farmer could spend $300 to $400 for Watermark tensiometers or soil sensors that would be needed to run the newest version of IrrigatorPro. “After that, there is no cost to run IrrigatorPro,” Porter says. Porter is also closely evaluating the timing and frequency of irrigation as called for by the various scheduling systems. He was pleased that even during a fairly wet year such as 2016, irrigation produced about 1,200 pounds per acre more peanuts than the non-irrigated treatments. Generally, Porter is very pleased with the recommendations from the newest version of IrrigatorPro. He was surprised that the SmartField system called for the most irrigation water, 13 inches, yet produced the lowest irrigated yields of the

scheduling systems tested. Even though 2016 was a wet year, the irrigation scheduling systems still recommended about 10 to 12 inches of irrigation water. Porter explains that this is due in part to poor distribution of and the high intensity rainfall events that characterized the 2016 production season which resulted in more water runoff and less water soaking into the soil. As to tillage trends, Porter sees a tendency for the soil moisture sensor scheduling programs to recommend more irrigation for strip-tilled peanuts than for peanuts grown in conventional tillage. This is the opposite of what is normally expected, yet it is a trend that is also showing up in Porter’s tests with corn irrigation scheduling. “We need to find out why,” he adds. “We are currently exploring water movement between the rows and within the rows to discover why the sensors are recommending more irrigation on conservation tillage. t


May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer


Irrigation Guidebook

Check PeanutFARM for when to irrigate eanutFARM is a web-based tool aimed at helping peanut farmers make better decisions on irrigation and when to harvest. University of Florida crop physiologist, Diane Rowland, helped to develop PeanutFARM. She explains that PeanutFARM is both a website and a smart phone application. It digitally documents yearly management decisions, and allows farmers to keep and use records such as planting dates, rainfall amounts, amounts of irrigation water applied and harvest dates. At the website, farmers will find that much of the information on irrigation and peanut maturity is derived from adjusted growing degree days (aGDD). The aGDD model uses upper and lower daily temperatures along with the amount of water the crop receives from rainfall and irrigation to predict the development of the crop. Rowland’s graduate student Brendan Zurweller helped Rowland in refining the crop water use curve used in PeanutFARM. He says the irrigation component is similar to using the general checkbook method of scheduling irrigation. He notes that PeanutFARM will recommend an irrigation when about 50 percent of estimated plant available water (PAW) is depleted from the soil. Zurweller explains that PAW is calculated using rooting depth, soil available water capacity, rainfall, and irrigation amounts. The aGDD model that calculates estimated crop water use also relies on estimates for canopy cover and leaf area index. In scheduling peanut irrigation, PeanutFARM uses the accumulated aGDDs to represent percent ground cover. One of the newer features of PeanutFARM allows global positioning system (GPS) coordinates to be used to identify specific peanut field locations and automatically associate the nearest weather station for the parameters used in the model. In making decisions on when to irrigate or when to dig peanuts, the PeanutFARM model can use weather data collected from an individual field or from the closest weather station to the field. Farmers who use PeanutFARM are



asked to sign up and create an account on the website, and then initialize the model and provide data for the current year by identifying farms, fields, varieties and designated weather stations (if they choose not to use the GPS feature). PeanutFARM will provide farmers with current status reports on whether or not soil moisture is adequate. The model also will generate historical reports on daily recommendations regarding whether

or not to irrigate. While the irrigation recommendations of PeanutFARM are available for use by farmers, Rowland says the aGDD model is still being tested in comparison with other irrigation scheduling methods such as direct measurements of soil moisture tension from research stations in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. t BY JOHN LEIDNER

Irrigation economics Economist Adam Rabinowitz is the newest member of the University of Georgia’s team of peanut specialists. One of his projects has been to analyze the costs and benefits of peanut irrigation. He has worked closely with Extension irrigation specialist Wes Porter who has been testing various peanut irrigation scheduling methods. Rabinowitz says peanuts typically require 23 inches of water during the growing season, and water use peaks about 14 weeks after planting when the crop is undergoing its peak fruiting period. During this time, the peanut plants can use up to 0.3 inches of water per day, according to Rabinowitz. He presents data showing that In a dry year, sensor-based irrigation scheduling about 54 percent of Georgia peanuts provides high net dollar benefits. were irrigated during 2016. He also notes that relatively few peanut farmers rely on soil moisture sensors or scheduling services for deciding when to apply irrigation water. For 2017, irrigation costs will be on average, $8.25 per acre-inch of water applied, according to Rabinowitz. He notes that weed control costs should be lower for irrigated than for dryland fields this year. However disease control costs for irrigated fields could be almost twice those for dryland fields. In analyzing the net benefits of irrigation for the various scheduling systems in Porter’s tests, Rabinowitz concluded that in a dry year, the sensor based scheduling systems provided the highest net dollar benefit. For instance, during the 2014 dry year, the University of Georgia’s Smart Sensor Array system provided the highest net benefits to irrigation for three out of the four varieties tested in the trial. During a wet year such as 2015 when rainfall is well distributed, there was no net benefit to irrigation. He found that during 2016 when rainfall was not well distributed, an online scheduling system such as Irrigator Pro provided the greatest net benefits. t BY JOHN LEIDNER

Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

Irrigation Guidebook

Improvements for Irrigator Pro he original Irrigator Pro for peanuts was developed during the 1980’s by USDA researcher Jim Davidson. Irrigator Pro versions for cotton and corn were developed collaboratively by the USDA and the University of Georgia during the mid 1990’s. The original Irrigator Pro was a desktop program which created a number of logistical problems. The newest version of Irrigator Pro is much easier to use, according to Chris Butts, ag engineer at the USDA’s National Peanut Laboratory in Dawson, Georgia. He says Irrigator Pro provides growers with a simple tool to determine when to irrigate to ensure optimal crop growth while minimizing irrigation costs. These irrigation recommendations are based on long-term, multicrop irrigation management studies by USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists.


Irrigator Pro calculates the available water in the soil and the daily water needs of the crop based on its growth stage. If the water needs of the crop exceed the available water in the soil, irrigation is recommended. Butts says the newest version of Irrigator Pro calculates the available soil water content. It does this either by using manually entered rainfall and irrigation data, manually entered values from soil water potential sensors or soil water potential sensor values wirelessly transferred to the University of Georgia data repository. A typical Irrigator Pro report will show soil moisture potential at the 8-, 16and 24-inch depths of the soil, along with minimum and maximum soil temperatures. Butts says these reports will also show the soil type in a field, the stage of crop growth and the amounts of water the crop receives from either rainfall or irrigation. Irrigator Pro’s daily reports will

recommend irrigation up to seven days in advance. Butts says the irrigation recommendations are based on available moisture or soil temperature, or a combination of the two. Irrigator Pro will notify its users of the irrigation recommendations by email. Growers who sign up for the service can also indicate if they wish to share their Irrigator Pro data, for instance, with their irrigation managers, crop consultants or landowners. Butts says the newest versions of Irrigator Pro can import data from the University of Georgia’s Smart Sensor Array system. “It will accommodate automatic, or semi-automatic, or handentered data,” he adds. A new version of Irrigator Pro is under development for use on smart phones, according to Butts. t


Improving on variable rate irrigation here have been some great recent advances in irrigation technology, according to University of Georgia ag engineer George Vellidis. For instance, he points out that major center pivot manufacturers now offer variable rate irrigation, a feature that can add $15,000 to $30,000 to the cost of a new pivot. The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost-share of up to 100 percent is available in some areas to offset these costs. Variable rate irrigation refers to the application of different volumes or rates of water to different segments of a field. “Coming up with a good prescription map is the key to benefitting from variable rate irrigation,” Vellidis says. He has worked with peanut farmer Joe Boddiford of Screven County, Georgia, and decided on the percent of full rate irrigation to apply to various irrigation management zones. The prescription map on Boddiford’s farm calls for anywhere from 0 percent on non-cropped areas to 125 percent of normal irrigation on highly productive zones within a field. “A pivot


controller is used to adjust the irrigation rate,” Vellidis says. Vellidis says his own research has focused on making variable rate decisions more dynamic, by responding to rainfall and how it changes soil moisture conditions. Vellidis developed a system that has evolved into the University of Georgia’s Smart Sensor Array. It helps in scheduling water applications and adjusting rates for the irrigation management zones under a pivot. The Watermark® sensors in his system are incorporated into probes that are easy to install and can send wireless data on soil moisture readings to a central controller or to a farmer’s cell phone. Vellidis installed one such system at a pivot owned by Adam McLendon in Calhoun County, Georgia. “Adam checks his data on his smart phone,” Vellidis says. “With the dynamic variable rate irrigation on McLendon’s pivot, we have 14 irrigation management zones within the field,” Vellidis says. “We compared the dynamic variable rate irrigation with the irrigation recommendations of the Irrigator Pro system.”

While 2015 yields were the same for both irrigation approaches, there was a 43 percent better irrigation water use efficiency with the dynamic variable rate irrigation. For instance, with dynamic variable rate irrigation, the irrigation water use efficiency was 1,645 pounds of peanuts per acre-inch of irrigation water applied. For peanuts watered by the Irrigator Pro recommendations, the irrigation water use efficiency was 1,236 pounds of peanuts per acre-inch of water applied. Tests during 2016 had much higher yields but showed a 440-pound per acre yield advantage to the peanuts watered by Irrigator Pro. Irrigation water use efficiency again favored the irrigation schedule suggested by the dynamic variable rate system by 37 percent. In explaining the 2016 results, Vellidis says that soil temperature may have played a role in recommending an irrigation application by the Irrigator Pro system that was missed by the dynamic variable rate system. He now plans to incorporate Irrigator Pro into the UGA SSA dynamic VRI system. t BY JOHN LEIDNER

May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer


Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day set for July 13 orld-renowned research by University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences scientists will be featured at this year’s Sunbelt Field Day in Moultrie, Georgia. More than 600 acres of agricultural research conducted by various UGA commodity teams, as well as industry, will be on display during the field day, which is set for Thursday, July 13, at the Darrell Williams Research Farm, located at the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo site at Spence Field in Moultrie. The event is free and registration will begin at 7:15 a.m. Trams depart for the field tours at 8 a.m. and the event concludes at noon. “This year’s field day will continue to focus on the latest cotton, peanut, corn and soybean seed varieties, crop protection, soil fertility and irrigation. We will also have a bermudagrass variety plot as well as alfalfa plots,” says Chip Blalock, executive director of the expo. “The goal of these research plots is to identify the best practices for our farmers and ranchers to become even more economically and environmentally sustainable.” The field day will feature 30 stops; talks from UGA scientists like Stanley Culpepper, Glen Harris and Dennis Hancock; and will focus on commodities like cotton, peanuts and forages. Agriculture remains the top industry in Georgia, with a farm gate value of $13.8 billion in 2015. With $713 million in farm gate value, Georgia ranks second in cotton production in the country, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. Georgia’s peanut production accounted for $684.6 million in farm gate value, leading the nation. Georgia row and forage crops generated $12 billion of the state’s economy in 2015 and employed more than 80,000 people. The research done at farms across Georgia, like Sunbelt, contributes to the success of Georgia farmers. Glen Harris, UGA Cooperative Extension soils and fertility specialist, focuses the majority of his research at the expo farm on cotton. Harris studies the effects of fertilizer treatments, specifically sulfur-based fertilizers, foliar potassium



and sidedress nitrogen fertilizers. “To be able to do research at Sunbelt is really valuable because the crew here is so easy to work with, and it’s also a very visible place. A lot of people know where Sunbelt is and come by,” Harris says. “Sunbelt is absolutely valuable to our work. Some of our studies wouldn’t be possible if not for the cooperation and help that we receive here.” Managing weeds is a constant battle for farmers throughout the South. Research efforts at the expo farm involve maximizing weed control through new and old cotton technologies, minimizing cotton injury by herbicides and better understanding the volatility potential of the new auxin herbicides. “The expo is unique in my research program because I am provided an opportunity to do large-acreage-plot research that more closely represents our growers. Additionally, the assistance from the expo staff is priceless,” Culpepper says. Hancock’s UGA research team is involved in forage demonstrations and research activities at the expo farm. They will demonstrate alfalfa’s performance with bermudagrass, a plot that is in its 11th year of research. The forage team also conducts several weed management trials on expo farm plots. More recently, the UGA research team started a bermudagrass demonstration that highlights several varieties and their relative susceptibility to the bermudagrass stem maggot. “It’s right in the middle of the season for us and it’s a good opportunity to see what our producers are facing at that point. The great thing about the expo is that you’ve got a large number of folks who are coming through, getting a lot of different pieces of information at one time and really covering the whole range of agricultural production,” Hancock says. “It’s a really good opportunity for them to get the latest products that are being studied at UGA and across the industry.” Blalock concurs and believes that attendees will enjoy hearing from and talking with the UGA researchers who are helping to improve their farming practices. “That’s the beauty of field day. We try to limit it to 30 stops on the tram tour,

Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

Visitors at Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day on July 13 will be able to see crop demonstrations and examine research trials by the University of Georgia Peanut Team.

but when field day is over and they’ve had time to visit with the researchers during lunch, then they have the option to go back out to the fields and visit even further,” Blalock says. “This is the one time of year when we focus on seed variety, crop protection, fertility, irrigation. While we already have this year’s crop in the ground, people can come see the new technologies and start making input decisions for the following crop year. They know when they come to field day, they’re going to see the latest technologies that are going to help their bottom line on the farm,” says Cody Mitchell, expo farm manager. In addition to the field tours there will be static exhibits from various equipment manufacturers and allied industry partners. Registration and static exhibits open at 7:15 a.m. with a complimentary biscuit breakfast and door prize registration. The breakfast is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Farm Bureau. Each registrant will receive a complimentary Expo hat and will be registered to win prizes, including a Brown Rotary Mower 416 from Brown Manufacturing Co., a gift certificate from Titan Tire/Goodyear valued at $250 and a shotgun provided by all participating seed and chemical companies. The door prizes will be announced during the luncheon at noon sponsored by Ameris Bank. The Sunbelt Ag Expo is located southeast of Moultrie, Georgia, on Georgia Highway 133. For additional information on the field day, visit or call 229-985-1968. t BY CLINT THOMPSON

19th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference July 20-22, 2017 Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort ark your calendars for the 19th Annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference, July 20-22, 2017, at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, Miramar Beach, Florida. This year’s conference offers farmers an opportunity to learn more about legislative issues, the peanut marketplace and production issues. The registration fee for growers is $145 which includes all conference events and meals. The registration deadline is June 30. The registration fee increases by $50 on July 1. To register and view the conference schedule visit The theme for this year’s conference, “Navigating the Marketplace,” plans to focus on growth opportunities and new initiatives within the peanut industry. During one of the sessions, growers will be in the hot seat with a question and answer from University researchers regarding production practices. This session will provide researchers with information related to rotation practices, varieties planted, irrigation use and more for the Southeast. During the Saturday morning session at 9:00 a.m., the keynote address will be brought by U.S. Representatives Mike Rogers, member of the House Committee on Agriculture, and Austin Congressman Mike Rogers Scott, Chairman of the R-Alabama, member of the House Committee on Agriculture House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit. Following their presentations, Bob Redding, representative for the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation in Congressman Austin Scott Washington, D.C., will lead R-Georgia, Chairman of the a question and answer House Agriculture Committee’s session with congressional Subcommittee on Commodity staff regarding policy and Exchanges, Energy and Credit the 2018 Farm Bill. There are a number of activities for families at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort ranging from relaxation to recreation. Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort offers 7.5 miles of sugar white beaches, a spa, golf courses, tennis courts, five-acre Jolee Island Nature Park, 18 swimming pools, putt putt and a variety of activities at The Village of Baytowne Wharf from shopping to an adventure zone. There is definitely something for everyone at the 19th annual conference and the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort!


Tentative Schedule of Events Thursday, July 20 1:00 - 6:00 p.m. 1:00 - 6:30 p.m.

Hospitality & Ice Cream Social Conference Registration

6:30 p.m.

Welcoming Reception

7:00 p.m.

Welcoming Dinner

Friday, July 21 7:15 a.m.

Prayer Breakfast

8:30 a.m.

General Session I

10:00 a.m.

Spouse Program (pre-registration required)

10:15 a.m.

General Session II

11:30 a.m.


1:00 p.m.

General Session III

Saturday, July 22 7:15 a.m.

Breakfast - Farm Press Peanut Efficiency Awards

9:00 a.m.

General Session IV


Lunch on your own and afternoon free!

12:30 - 6 p.m.

Golf Tournament

7:00 p.m.


7:30 p.m.

Dinner and Entertainment

Conference Schedule will be updated online at Visit the website to register online too! May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer


Washington Outlook by Robert L. Redding Jr.

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue meets with top hill leaders Congressman Bishop attends meeting U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sec. Sonny Perdue hosted a bipartisan breakfast with agriculture leaders from the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The breakfast marks the first time Sec. Perdue has met with the leaders, which include: Representatives Michael Conaway, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, R- Texas; Collin Peterson, ranking member, D- Minnesota; Robert Aderholt, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, R-Alabama, and Sanford Bishop, ranking member, D-Georgia. Following the breakfast, Sec. Perdue issued this statement: “It was an honor to host members from both parties this morning, and I am pleased to know that reaching across the aisle is common practice for these leaders,” says Sec. Perdue. “A proud tradition of bipartisanship is the only way to get things done, and I am confident we will accomplish great things for American agriculture.”

Chairman Roberts, Sec. Perdue announces school lunch regulatory flexibility U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, joined U.S. Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue in announcing regulatory flexibility for the National School Lunch Program. Secretary Perdue signed a proclamation that carries out the following: • A postponement of target II sodium requirements for three years, • An allowance for occasional non-whole grain rich products to be served, and • An allowance for 1 percent milkfat flavored milk to be served. Chairman Roberts also ate a school lunch with elementary school students and visited with school meal providers at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia. Chairman Roberts has long been an advocate for flexibility in school meal standards, repeatedly calling on the Obama Administration to provide regulatory relief to local school districts. Roberts has joined students for lunch in both urban and rural areas in Kansas, listening to school nutritionists and students’ concerns regarding the Obama Administration’s rigid school meal standards.


Southeastern Peanut Farmer May/June 2017

Chairman Conaway disappointed in cotton decision House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, issued the following statement concerning the exclusion of critical help for cotton and dairy farmers from the omnibus appropriations bill. “It is no secret that times are extremely difficult in farm and ranch country right now, with net farm income down 50 percent from where it stood just four years ago. It is also no secret that the safety net for cotton and dairy is failing our producers. To its credit, the entire cotton industry came together on a plan to fix what is broken with respect to the safety net for cotton farmers. It was thoroughly vetted, strongly supported, and entirely paid for. “The dairy industry, too, has been working hard to restore the safety net for our nation’s dairy farmers. Unfortunately, Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, insisted on an $800 million plan that was cobbled together last minute, unvetted, and totally unpaid for, and when they did not get their way, they blocked critical relief for both cotton and dairy farmers. “I am extremely disappointed in the recklessness and heartlessness of such an approach. For the sake of both America’s cotton and dairy farmers, I hope that all lawmakers will come together on policies broadly supported by those they are designed to help, thoroughly vetted, and fully paid for. Senators Stabenow and Leahy should not be playing games with the livelihoods of those who work hard to put food on our tables and clothes on our backs. I want to reassure the nation’s farmers and ranchers that I and many of my colleagues are fully committed to correcting this wrong and seeing them through their current economic challenges.”

U.S. Senate Ag Committee holds Michigan hearing The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, recently held the second committee hearing on the 2018 Farm Bill in Frankenmuth, Michigan, titled, “Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Michigan.” The hearing was held May 6, 2017. Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow heard from two panels of witnesses affected by various titles of the Farm Bill. The archived hearing can be watched online at Additional hearings on the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization will take place in Washington.

UGA's new row crop physiologist to focus on peanut hysiologist Cristiane Pilon is the newest member of the University of Georgia Peanut Team. Her expertise in the physiological processes of the peanut plant and management of the plant’s stress levels will equip Georgia farmers with tools to produce an even better crop. Pilon joined the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences March 1 and is based on the UGA Tifton campus. She works with fellow peanut team members to answer the questions they are fielding from Georgia’s peanut producers. “The peanut team needed a physiologist here to try to help manage one of the state’s high-value row crops. They had general agronomists, breeders, entomologists, all of whom have general areas of expertise for peanuts, but a physiologist was needed to help answer other questions,” Pilon says. She views drought as one of the main problems that Georgia peanut farmers face, especially because half of the state’s peanut crop is produced in nonirrigated fields. Last year’s drought, which spanned a couple of months in late summer and early fall, led to low yields for much of Georgia’s peanut crop. Drought conditions can make aflatoxin problems worse. “When that happens, one big problem leads to another,” Pilon says. The carcinogen aflatoxin becomes more prevalent when a peanut plant undergoes drought and heat stress. The presence of aflatoxin, even on just one peanut, can severely downgrade a peanut load. Pilon will study the physiological and metabolic processes of peanut plants and identify how the plants respond to stress conditions such as drought, high temperatures, insect and disease pressures, especially pressure from the tomato spotted wilt virus. “There are several physiological processes involved in the growth and

Photo credit: University of Georgia.


Cristiane Pilon is the new row crop physiologist at the UGA Tifton campus. She will focus much of her research on peanuts.

development of peanut plants that contribute to productivity,” Pilon says. “Our goal is to understand those processes and how we can manage the crop to improve tolerance to stresses and achieve high productivity. Then, information obtained from our research can be relayed to Georgia’s growers by the peanut team.” UGA Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort believes Pilon’s expertise will serve Georgia well. “Peanuts are a high-value crop in Georgia, so it’s incredibly important to have a row crop physiologist like Cristiane Pilon working at UGA. She is already helping our peanut team members understand and grasp the inner workings of the peanut plant,” Monfort says. “If we know how much drought and extreme temperatures a peanut plant can tolerate, we can convey that information to our growers.” A native of Brazil, Pilon received her doctorate in cotton physiology from the University of Arkansas.

At UGA, Pilon’s primary focus will be peanuts, a crop that Georgia farmers are expected to dedicate more than 700,000 acres to this year. Pilon said that Georgia producers depend on the collaborative effort of the peanut team to navigate what’s estimated to be a huge crop. “Whether I’m talking to Extension agents and specialists or other researchers, we’re trying to figure out what our main needs are for the crop, then set up experiments to try to answer those questions so the growers can increase yields,” Pilon says. “That’s why our responsibilities are so important. We are all serving Georgia’s peanut growers.” Georgia’s peanut industry recorded more than $684.6 million in farm gate value in 2015, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. t


May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer


Southern Peanut Growers #AmericasPBFarmers social media campaign achieves 5.9 million impressions Southern Peanut Growers launched the #AmericasPBFarmers social media campaign for March, National Peanut Month as a unique opportunity to deepen consumers’ connection with the farmers that plant, grow and harvest peanuts. “When you purchase a jar of peanut butter, you are supporting American agriculture, family farmers and local economies,” says Leslie Wagner, executive director for Southern Peanut Growers. “Peanut butter is produced by farmers throughout the Southeast, creating an industry that has a $2.5 billion impact on the region. And no one knows more about how to use delicious peanut butter than the 5,500 Southeastern farmers who grow more than 1.15 million acres of peanuts.” Visit to explore America’s PB farmers’ stories. In addition, through April 14, consumers were encouraged to prepare and share a PB farmer’s favorite recipe on social using #AmericasPBFarmers for a chance to win delicious prizes. Four winners were selected to receive a box full of peanut butter products: Tiffany C. in Harrison, N.Y.; John B. in Fredericksburg, Tex.; Ed C. in Lincoln, Ill.; and Jennifer K. in Framingham, Mass. Here’s a taste of America’s PB Farmers, and their favorite recipes:

Thomas Adams; Newville, Ala.: Thomas is a third-generation farmer

working together with his father. The pair tend to nearly 800 acres of peanuts on their 2,100- acre farm. As Thomas likes to say, “the best foods are memories,” and for the Adams family, that means his mom’s Peanut Butter Squares.

Casey Cox; Camilla, Ga.: Twentyfive-year-old Casey Cox has been farming her family’s 3,400 acres of peanuts, sweet corn, soybeans and more for nearly three years. Casey is not only the sixth generation in her family to farm along the Flint River, but she also serves as the executive director of the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District. With her roots firmly planted in the peanut industry, it comes as no surprise that she can make a swoon-worthy Peanut Butter Pie.

Michael Davis; Graceville, Fla.: A sixth-generation farmer, Michael Davis is raising his family to share his love of peanuts. On his 8,000-acre farm, he and his wife, Lisa, have nearly 2,500 acres dedicated solely to growing peanuts. His

Marketing arm of

daughter, Mikaela, also plans to rejoin him at the farm full-time once she graduates college. Michael always has four to five jars of peanut butter in the pantry so he can reach for a spoonful of the sticky spread to create a healthy snack or easy meal anytime.

Bernard ‘B.’ Jones; Ridgeland, Miss.: A fourth-generation farmer, B. works with his brother, Will, and grows peanuts, cotton, soybeans and corn on his 3,800 acrefarm on the edge of the Delta. His family loves to use peanuts and peanut butter to put a Thai spin on fresh gulf shrimp in his favorite Shrimp Pad Thai.

Carl and Jonathan Sanders; Dothan, Ala. Carl and Jonathan, father-son duo, are fourth- and fifth-generation peanut farmers on their 1,000-acre farm. They farm peanuts among other crops. Carl strives to “leave the land better for the next generation.” Carl and Jonathan are true peanut butter lovers and their favorite recipes are Grilled PB&J and a Peanut Butter Shake, respectively.

Southern Peanut Growers 1025 Sugar Pike Way · Canton, Georgia 30115 (770) 751-6615 · FAX (770) 751-6417 email: Visit our website at

Shrimp Pad Thai B. Jones Mississippi peanut farmer

Ingredients: 2 pounds fresh gulf shrimp, peeled and chopped in bite size pieces 1 package (12 oz) of Pad Thai noodles, cooked as directed 1/4 cup peanut oil 1/2 bunch of green onions, chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tablespoons fish sauce 1-2 teaspoons chili sauce, depending on heat preference 3 tablespoons peanut butter 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar Crushed red pepper to taste 2 tablespoons sugar 2 eggs, beaten 2 cups bean sprouts 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, crushed Lime wedges Cilantro, chopped

Directions: Heat peanut oil over medium heat in a wok. Add green onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until brown. In a bowl, mix fish sauce, chili sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, crushed red peppers and sugar. Add shrimp to the onions and garlic; cook until shrimp starts to change color. Push shrimp, onions and garlic to one side of the wok and add eggs to the open side. Scramble the eggs as they cook. When the eggs and shrimp are cooked, add noodles and bean sprouts to wok. Remove from heat and toss. Pour sauce over everything and toss well. Top with crushed peanuts. Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.

May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer


May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer  
May/June 2017 Southeastern Peanut Farmer