Tag Archives: farms

Big peanuts are big business

In recent years, Bailey, Sugg, Titan, Sullivan, and Wynne have brought millions of dollars into the commonwealth.

These aren’t companies or entrepreneurs or even scientists. They are peanuts.

Extension specialist Maria Balota works with peanut producers to develop the best varieties suitable to the commonwealth’s climate.

Extension specialist Maria Balota works with peanut producers to develop the best varieties suitable to the commonwealth’s climate.

Researchers from Virginia Tech, working in conjunction with partners and peanut breeders in North and South Carolina, have developed and tested a constant stream of new Virginia peanut cultivars over the last 40 years that are as profitable as they are hearty.

“Farmers we work with not only benefit from the work we do, but also help guide our research in terms of telling us what characteristics they would like to see in new Virginia peanut strains,” said Maria Balota, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science who is also an Extension specialist.

The Peanut Variety and Quality Evaluation Program is the only publicly funded program of its kind in the world that focuses solely on peanuts.

The big, gourmet Virginia peanuts are big business in the region. In the banner year of 2012, they had a production value of $210 million in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Two varieties with extra-large pods that Balota’s group has grown — Bailey and Sugg — have added more than $16 million in value to the crops.

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Helping Virginia’s vegetable growers manage pest attacks

Colorado potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle

Vegetable production is growing in Virginia and nationwide, with an increased emphasis on locally grown food. However, not all growers, especially those who are new to the field, know how to control the pests that attack their crops. Many of the insecticides that have been used in the past can have damaging health and environmental effects, not to mention the harm they do to other beneficial insects.

To respond to these needs, the Vegetable Pest Management Research Program provides research and education in order to find better solutions.

“Pest management has never been more important than it is today,” said Thomas Kuhar, Virginia Tech entomology professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist.

The program identifies which pest problems are the most pressing, such as the brown marmorated stink bug, and finds alternative ways to control them. Kuhar and other researchers and Extension agents use this research to educate growers and the public.

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