What is in this article?:
- The South Carolina AgriBiz Expo previewed several new opportunities for the region's farmers.
- McCall Farms has purchased a major producer of yams, creating promise for more sweet potato plantings.
- Birdsong will operate a new peanut buying point in Darlington, S.C., for the first time.
SOUTH CAROLINA AG Commissioner Hugh Weathers (left); David Winkles, president of the S.C. Farm Bureau and Larry McKenzie, also of the S.C. Farm Bureau staff, discuss their perspectives on the current farm economy at the recent S.C. AgriBiz Expo.
The excitement was undisguised at the South Carolina AgriBiz Expo in January over two recent developments that hold promise for increased crop production in northeast South Carolina, a region known as the Pee Dee.
First, McCall Farms of Effingham, S.C., (about 20 miles south of the Florence Civic Center, where the Expo was held) has purchased Bruce Foods, a Louisiana company which produces the popular canning line Bruce’s Yams.
Although no announcement had been made concerning where McCall’s/Bruce’s Yams will obtain its basic products, there was quite a bit of hope that increased opportunities for sweet potato plantings by South Carolina growers will result.
Bruce’s Yams have been described by the previous owner as “America’s #1 selling yam.” It also produces canned white potatoes and selected Southern vegetables like okra, squash, greens and carrots. McCall's, which is lead by President Henry Swink, is expected to continue producing all of those products.
“Bruce Foods is a family owned company that has shared our similar values, and their Southern-style vegetables are the perfect addition to the McCall Farms’ product line,” said the company in a statement.
And there was some good news for South Carolina peanut growers too. Shortly before the Expo, Birdsong Peanuts of Suffolk, Va., announced that it will operate a new buying station in Darlington, S.C., for the first time this year.
It was also reported the station will begin taking deliveries with the 2014 crop, said Marianne Copelan, marketing specialist for the S.C. Peanut Board, who shared the good news from the board's booth at the Expo.
General contract prices are starting at $500 a ton on Virginias and $425 a ton on runners, and both levels are appealing to farmers. There were 78,000 acres of peanuts in S.C., Copelan said, and there may well be more in 2014. Peanut acres have been increasing in South Carolina in recent years. About 70 percent of the state’s peanuts are Virginias and 30 percent are runners.
The new buying point will benefit growers in the Pee Dee region (northeastern South Carolina), she said. “The industry is excited.”
Nine peanut buying points operated in the state in 2013.