Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of Extension’s impact in the county over the past year.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
UGA Extension in Schley County holds peanut maturity checks every fall to help farmers determine the optimal digging dates for peanuts. Knowing the age/maturity of peanuts can help determine whether additional fungicide applications are needed. In addition to performing maturity checks, field visits are also made to help assess the health of the vines in the field and soil conditions. Vine health is very important when digging and harvesting peanuts. If vines collapse before farmers are able to dig, it can cause many peanuts to remain in the ground and not become inverted. If vines degrade rapidly once they are inverted, it can make it difficult for the harvester to combine the peanuts. Looking at the maturity and overall condition of the field optimizes choosing the date to dig individual fields of peanuts.
Peanuts are an indeterminate crop and form the harvestable crop underground. The variability of pod maturity can make knowing the best time to dig the peanuts for harvest very difficult. Digging just two weeks too early or two weeks too late can result in a 10 to 20 percent reduction in yield. A premature harvest can also reduce the grade of the peanut and reduce profits per pound. Looking at vine health and soil condition in the field is something else the county Extension agent takes into account. If peanuts are loose from the hulls or if the vines are declining at a rapid rate, it may be best to go ahead and dig versus waiting and possibly losing the most mature peanuts in the field, which would mean losing the potential for the best grade and highest weight.
Research indicates that harvesting too early or too late can greatly affect yield of a peanut crop. Harvesting two weeks early can cause an average loss of 720 pounds, based on a Schley County average of 3,600 pounds per acre. Harvesting one week early can cause an average loss of 360 pounds per acre. There is a potential for yield loss if dug too early, however digging too late can have a larger impact on yield. More peanuts have the potential to be lost during the harvesting process on fields that are past optimum maturity. Digging one week late can cause 600 pounds per acre to be lost and, at 0.21 cents per pound, adds up to $126 in losses per acre. Knowing peanut maturity benefits the quantity and quality of the yield.
4-H Youth Development
The Schley County 4-H Club helps young people find a supportive environment where they learn together and reach their full potential through challenges. In an effort with Schley County Schools, more than 220 4-H’ers participate in monthly in-school and after-school educational programs that build character and cover subjects like healthy lifestyles and agricultural awareness. Thirty-four Schley County 4-H’ers participated in the 4-H summer camp program, District Project Achievement, leadership-building opportunities and a new club called “Hunter Gatherers,” which teaches 4-H’ers the basics of survival and self-reliance while in the outdoors. All of these activities allow them to expand their horizons and prepare them for future involvement in the community.