Peanuts and Cotton: From the Field

Thanks to my third grade teacher, I knew peanuts – well, the part I knew as a peanut – grew underground like a potato. As a resident of rural south Georgia, I’m sure I’ve seen the plant growing in the field but not until a few weeks ago could I identify a peanut plant – or tell you how it is grown. Thanks to an experience through Leadership Wayne (Georgia), I can tell you all about how peanuts and cotton are grown, are harvested and where the majority of the area’s crop go. (China is one location I was surprised to learn!)

Peanuts – lots and lots of peanuts! Most of the peanuts we saw were destined to be churned into peanut butter or wind up in a candy bar. They called these smaller peanuts Confectionary peanuts. There’s another kind grown in Virginia that are commonly made into boiled peanuts. When we visited the cotton and peanut gin, there were MOUNTAINS of peanuts and according to Mr. Fountain, the area peanut harvest will fill two huge warehouse buildings before being sent to commerce. The warehouse we visited, and I have posted pictures of above, was only a fourth full. I can honestly say that’s an overwhelming quantity of peanuts!

We also learned about the process of cotton from field to gin. We visited two locations where our local UGA Extension Office is growing field trials to determine which kind of cotton will grow best in our specific growing region. This was also the first time I’ve ever held freshly “exploded” boules of cotton. That song about drop down, turn around and pick a bale of cotton, kept running around in my head. I also had no idea that cotton is a perennial, they have to spray it with defoilage spray so they can harvest it and it can grow as tall as a man if it’s not trimmed back. It’s a beautiful plant that reminds me of the Confederate Roses that grow around old Southern homes – mine included. I haven’t looked into it but I’m pretty sure they are from the same species.

I want to thank Mr. Burch and his family of FMR Burch Farms in Screven, Ga., Mr. Kent Fountain and the Southeastern Gin and Peanut in Surrency, Ga., and Mr. Jonny Harris of Greenview Farms for allowing our Leadership class to visit their businesses and to take photos of their locations. I also want to thank Mr. Joe B. Harris of Screven and the Wayne County Farm Bureau for hosting our group for lunch.

I will never pass another field of cotton or peanuts without thinking of this educational and fascinating day.

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