A group of 450 visitors at the recent Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition field day saw ongoing variety tests in several of Georgia's key crops and learned about new projects being launched at Spence Field.

The field day had 40 stops, showcasing variety trials in cotton, peanuts, soybeans and grain sorghum, equipment displays and energy grasses, as well as stops for crop protection trials, irrigation and precision agriculture.

Sunbelt will be getting a new state-of-the-art irrigation pivot courtesy of Reinke Manufacturing. The pivot will replace the Rainbow pivot near Sunbelt Gate 4, which has been in operation for approximately 30 years, according to Sunbelt Executive Director Chip Blalock, who said the new pivot will be unveiled during this year's Sunbelt Expo, scheduled for Oct. 18-20.

The project, valued at approximately $100,000, will include a weather station, GPS technology and burglar alarm technology that can be run remotely from a laptop computer. 

"It just has all the latest telemetry to allow us to be better stewards of water," Blalock said.

UGA Extension Peanut Agronomist John Beasley, said this year marked the end of a long run for the Georgia Green variety of peanuts at the Sunbelt test farm, which he said had been a key cultivar at several test sites since 1995.

"Now we have some new cultivars that are really outstanding," Beasley said. "Georgia Green is really no longer a major player." 

Beasley said the Georgia-06G, Georgia Greener, and Georgia-07W cultivars at the Sunbelt site, the UGA Tifton site and a University of Florida test site in Mariana, Fla., have shown good yield potential and excellent resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus. 

The peanut plots also test row spacing. The 2010 trials indicated little difference in twin-row spacing vs. single-row spacing, but Beasley said the twin-row approach has produced greater yields in most years.

Sunbelt Expo is also expanding Priefert Arena through a joint project with the Colquitt County Saddle Club. The arena serves as the venue for equine demonstrations during the Sunbelt Expo.

Sunbelt officials wanted to improve the facility in order to host more equine events throughout the year, and Priefert Ranch Equipment assisted in the design.

Sunbelt also received volunteer labor from the Colquitt County Saddle Club, which according to Sunbelt officials will organize equine demonstrations during the Expo, including performances by the local Special Olympics equine team.

The expanded facility will also be unveiled during the Expo in October.