TIFTON — The Georgia Peanut Commission board of directors has approved $254,000 in research projects for its 2011-12 research budget. This action was taken during the commission’s March board meeting. The research projects approved include 27 project proposals submitted from the University of Georgia, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Fort Valley State and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
"We are proud of our close relationship and partnership with research institutions in the state," said Donald Chase, Georgia Peanut Commission research committee chairman. "Peanut growers are pleased to invest in the future by providing monetary support for research and education that has continued to demonstrate a return on our investment."
Georgia’s peanut growers invest $2 per ton annually to fund the programs of GPC, which include the research funding.
"The importance of peanut producers’ investments in research cannot be underestimated," said Emory Murphy, GPC research committee secretary. Murphy noted that peanut research and extension programs have contributed to two consecutive years of statewide record peanut yields and a five-year average yield higher than any prior five-year period. "Cultivars planted by farmers today are producing 700 to 1,000 pound an acre more than the cultivars they were growing five or six years ago," he said.
On nearly half of the U.S. production, Georgia peanut yields consistently are higher than other states while maintaining and improving quality.
"This is a testament to our research and education efforts and our growers," Chase said. "These new higher-yielding and disease-resistant varieties we are developing are available to all the other states but Georgia farmers simply do an excellent job of controlling weeds, pest and disease, and managing cultural practices and resources."
These research programs primarily focus on economics; conservation methods; irrigation and water management; peanut breeding for higher yield and improved quality; pests; weed and disease management; and allergen-free peanuts. However GPC is stepping up its efforts by funding research focused on the development and evaluation of new cultivars with an emphasis on disease-resistant genetic markers; Global Positioning System-managed systems and remote sensing using the automated weather and climate-network data; improving methods to determine maturity; improving planter and planting issues; and looking for answers for the burrower bug nemesis.
Chase said it is obvious that we must continue to press for public or government support as we have lost ten key and three of them critical peanut scientists and extension positions in the past five to seven years that have not been replaced.
"Prior to eight to 10 years ago, we would have had 45 to 50 project proposals submitted for funding verses the 31 received this year," Chase said. "Realistically, we feel that we will have to fund a larger portion of the jobs ourselves in the future if, indeed, these critical research and extension positions are filled at all."