The Georgia Peanut Achievement Club recently recognized 16 peanut growers for producing the state's highest yields in 2001. These producers achieved this designation by adjusting their production practices during the past decade in response to high levels of tomato spotted wilt virus.

Coordinated by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service and sponsored by Syngenta Crop Protection, the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club honored four state winners and 12 district winners at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The four state winners were:

  • Mike McLendon of Macon County in Category I (20 to 99.9 acres), averaging 6,411 pounds per acre on 63.2 acres.

  • John Gaines and Ricky Dowdy of Baker County in Category II (100 to 299.9 acres), averaging 6,409 pounds per acre on 285.5 acres.

  • Al Sudderth of Calhoun County in Category III (300 to 599.9 acres), averaging 5,718 pounds per acre on 304.3 acres.

  • Jerry and Jeff Heard of Baker County in Category IV (600 acres-plus), averaging 5,850 pounds per acre on 676.2 acres.

    McLendon also was named the overall state winner for the second consecutive year.

    Other district winner recognized in Category I were:

  • Jeff Barber of Decatur County, averaging 6,002 pounds per acre on 26.2 acres.

  • Franklin Dyck of Jefferson County, averaging 5,543 pounds per acre on 32 acres.

  • Wayne Hobbs of Irwin County, averaging 5,558 pounds per acre on 21.4 acres.

    In Category II, other district winners were:

  • Chase Farms, Inc. (Glen Lee Chase) of Macon County, averaging 6,141 pounds per acre on 223.8 acres.

  • Larry and Ray Walker of Ben Hill County, averaging 6,082 pounds per acre on 152.3 acres.

  • Bobby and Walter Godwin of Grady County, averaging 5,845 pounds per acre on 158.7 acres.

    From Category III, other district winners were:

  • Worsham Farms (Lanair Worsham) of Mitchell County, averaging 5,380 pounds per acre on 381 acres.

  • Rob Greene of Turner County, averaging 5,168 pounds per acre on 383.4 acres.

  • Philip Grimes of Tift County, averaging 5,243 pounds per acre on 463.8 acres.

    In Category IV, other district winners were:

  • Cliff Hattaway of Clay County, averaging 4,991 pounds per acre on 771.5 acres.

  • ABC Farms, Inc. (Chip Dorminy) of Ben Hill County, averaging 4,389 pounds per acre on 720.4 acres.

  • Wayne Sayer of Irwin County, averaging 4,253 pounds per acre on 1,437.2 acres.

“All of these farmers are to be commended for their outstanding yields,” said Lyle Stewart, district manager for Syngenta Crop Protection. “Their yield results are a real testament to their management strategies and decisions as they've adjusted to the devastating tomato spotted wilt virus. Syngenta is proud to be part of a program that recognizes the peanut industry's outstanding producers.”

“We had 63 entries statewide, and of those, seven had yields of more than 6,000 pounds per acre, 31 were more than 5,000 pounds per acre and 25 were between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds per acre,” said John Baldwin, University of Georgia Extension agronomist and coordinator of the program. “These were among the highest yields recorded since the mid-1980s.”

Good rainfall during the growing season, along with cooler average temperatures and excellent harvest conditions in 2001 were significant factors for Georgia peanut producers, who averaged the highest yields recorded in nearly two decades. An estimated average yield of 3,300 pounds per acre was harvested from an estimated 515,000 acres. Even with these excellent growing conditions for most of the state, growers in north-central and eastern Georgia had difficulty maintaining good yields because of below-average rainfall.

“It shows that having adequate rainfall during a growing season can go a long way in insuring high-yielding peanuts,” said Baldwin.

While analyzing data submitted by each of the winners, Baldwin found several common denominators in their management practices.

“Due to the potential of tomato spotted wilt virus, the production practices of these growers have changed during the past decade,” explains Baldwin. “All growers planted a TSWV-resistant peanut variety, seeding rates were at least six seed per row-foot, nine of the top 16 growers planted twin-row peanuts, one had a 30-inch row pattern, one used a triple-row pattern and the remaining five were on standard 36-inch row patterns.

“In addition, planting dates mostly were in May, with large acreage growers starting in late April. All used an in-furrow insecticide for thrips control and had six to nine fungicide sprays for disease control. All of these high-yielding growers were on predominately a three- to four-year rotation with cotton and/or corn.”