Farmers saw their checkoff dollars in action Friday, August 22nd while attending the annual Crops Field Day at the Wiregrass Research Extension Center in Headland, Alabama. About 50 farmers toured fields of peanuts, cotton and sesame and met with scientists conducting research for those crops. Last week, the annual Panhandle Crops Meeting was held at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna, Florida.
“We hold this tour every year about this time, just before the fall harvest,” says Kris Balkcom, research associate for the Wiregrass Research Extension Center. “Farmers can see the crops as they get close to maturity and ask questions to the scientists who are actually conducting the research. It’s a great way for farmers to see what their checkoff dollars are being used for.”
Peanut and cotton farmers contribute money at harvest to checkoff funds used for research, education and promotion. The scientists at the center test new plant varieties; planting methods; harvest techniques; seeding rates and irrigation – all while recording the data with the hopes of improving production and efficiency.
Nick Snellgrove, a peanut and cotton farmer from Ashford, Alabama, said he’d been to four of the annual tours, and each year he learns something different. “I can learn more and see what’s changed,” he says. “This year I learned about sesame and about possibly rotating it as a crop with peanuts.”
Tours like these help farmers realize how important their checkoff dollars really are,” says Alabama Peanut Producers Association President Carl Sanders. “Actually seeing the crops in the fields is always better than hearing or reading about it. As the world population continues to grow, it’s important that farmers look for ways to improve our efficiency while continuing to produce an affordable and abundant food supply. Tours like the one today help us realize there are still a lot of opportunities for us to do that.”
By Teresa Mays, Alabama Peanut Producers Association