Making A Difference in Our County
We're working hard for the citizens we serve. Here are some examples of successful projects from the past year:
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
With the continuous stream of new cotton varieties, and what seems like endless trait packages each year, cotton producers are faced with an increasingly difficult decision as to which variety and which trials they need on their farm. Brian Hayes, Grady County Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agent, has conducted multiple trials each year for the past three seasons to help growers evaluate which varieties are best suited for their farms. In Grady County, cotton has always been the No. 1 row crop, and in recent years, growers have planted nearly 29,000 acres, making the farm gate value of cotton over $15 million. With cotton prices having dropped in recent years, growers are faced with the challenge of selecting high-yielding varieties in order to maximize yield and overall profit. The Grady County Extension agent has worked with local producers, seed companies and the UGA Cotton Team for three seasons now to conduct six variety trials, each having no fewer than 12 varieties. In each trial, yields and grades were measured and price was determined using both the U.S. Department of Agriculture loan rate and the open markets. Grady County cotton producers were able to use the data gathered at these trials to select cotton varieties that have performed well in the area. The variety trials are not only subjective, large-scale cotton plots, but also replicated plots, giving growers improved confidence in selecting the top-yielding varieties. The top-yielding varieties in these trials consistently produce at least 350 pounds of lint more than the lower-yielding varieties, and this is usually coupled with grades that will receive a premium for quality. If a 1,000-acre cotton producer picks the high-yielding variety instead of a lower one and receives $0.65 per pound for his cotton, that equates to $227.50 more per acre and nearly $6.6 million more annually as a county.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Grady County 4-H offers educational programs for youth to develop their leadership, citizenship, public speaking and critical thinking skills. Grady 4-H staff conduct monthly school club meetings for grades four through 12 with after-school programming conducted at the Extension office. A total of 451 youth enrolled in 4-H during 2016, and more than 190 participated in an educational event. Twenty-seven students presented an illustrated talk at Project Achievement, and we had a record-breaking camping year with 85 4-H’ers and volunteers attending summer camp at one of the five 4-H centers across Georgia. A total of 57 4-H’ers exhibited hogs, cattle, sheep or goats at the county, regional or state levels, and nine improved their livestock evaluation skills on our Livestock Judging Team. Our shooting sports program supported 82 participants shooting on our Archery, Modified Trap Shotgun, or Skeet and Trap Shotgun teams. Our Summer Fun program had 65 participants. Grady County 4-H’ers also learn the value of helping those less fortunate than themselves as they collect pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House and shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. The highlight of our 2016 4-H year was the Senior Archery Team winning first place at the State 4-H Outdoor Archery Match in the compound division. The team traveled to Grand Island, Nebraska, and placed fourth in the nation at the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships.