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October 25, 2007   Email to Friend 

Teresa Wilson
(334) 792-6482
October 25, 2007

Checking out the future of peanuts at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center in Headland, from left, are: Alabama Peanut Producers Association Executive Director Randy Griggs, Dr. Earnest Harvey of Auburn University and Dr. Charles Chen of the National Peanut Research Laboratory out of Dawson, Ga.
HEADLAND, Ala. -- Auburn University is harvesting its first research plots from its new peanut breeding program at the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center (WREC) in Headland with hopes of improving future peanut production in the area.

Auburn is conducting the research in cooperation with the peanut genetics and breeding department of USDA's National Peanut Research Laboratory (NPRL) in Dawson, Ga. Peanuts have long been an important commodity in Alabama and its neighboring states of Florida and Georgia, and Mississippi is now moving in that direction.

Peanut breeders Dr. Earnest Harvey of Auburn University and Dr. Charles Chen of the NPRL were at the WREC recently, harvesting nearly 30 peanut breeding and genetics research test plots. The researchers believe the results from these tests will have a positive outcome on maintaining the United States' reputation for growing the "best quality peanuts in the world."

The three-acre area of test plots include irrigated and non-irrigated peanuts for yield and grade comparisons. Other important traits the researchers are aiming for in the new varieties include: high yield, excellent resistance in Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus and improved fatty acid profile.

"We are planning to have breeder seed available in 2008, and we have high expectations that we will be able to release some new varieties in 2009," Harvey explained.

Although 2009 sounds like a long time off, Harvey says patience is truly a virtue when it comes to research such as this. "We are moving right along, although it's a very slow process," he said, adding that it should be worth the wait when 2009 arrives.

The research is being conducted by the National Peanut Research Laboratory in cooperation with Auburn University's College of Agriculture and funded in part by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association.

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