ing with Darrell Williams and including current farm manager Cody
Mitchell, who was a student worker supervised by Culpepper. “I love
the Expo farm, because I can do research here that might end up killing 6 acres of a crop,” says Culpepper. “I would never want to do that
on a commercial farm — but here I’m able to do that.”
AND SOME FAILURES
Not everything tried at the Expo farm ended up being a success: kenaf, citrus, and kiwifruit all failed to meet expectations. Kenaf was
developed as a potential fiber crop, but never caught on in the marketplace. Kiwifruit is a widely accepted item among consumers, but
it is just difficult to grow in South Georgia.
During the late 1980s, the Expo farm grew its first group of citrus
trees on raised beds in an area just behind the current farm shop.
After just a few years, the trees died from a severe freeze. But, given
the rec interest in growing citrus in south Georgia, it may be time for
another look at citrus again at the Expo farm.
Twin-row planting is now commonplace for growing peanuts.
The Expo farm grew its first twin row peanuts in 1980, which had a
growing season of severe drought. Few farmers irrigated cotton that
year, but irrigation on the Expo farm produced yields of more than
1,000 pounds per acre — an accomplishment that helped expand
irrigation on cotton farms in the Southeast.
The peanut industry’s first leaf spot-resistant variety, Southern
Runner, was planted on the Expo farm in 1987. While it never became widely grown, it has become a parent line of many of today’s
widely-planted peanut varieties.
The 1989 Expo hosted studies by University of Georgia agricultural engineers of a wide-span tractor to demonstrate controlled traffic
and minimal soil compaction. The tractor was developed in Israel
and brought to the U.S. for the UGA studies. Also, cotton was grown
that year in 30-inch rows to be harvested by a new picker introduced
by John Deere.
In 1992, the experimental herbicide Cadre was first applied to
peanuts, and has since become a widely used peanut herbicide. Also
during that year, the Expo farm received its first weather monitors that
were used to predict when to spray peanuts for leaf spot. Today, a new
WeatherSTEM weather station collects a wide variety of continuous
data on the farm. WeatherSTEM data can be customized to automatically send alerts to users, depending on weather conditions.
EXTENSIVE PEANUT STUDIES
UGA Extension Peanut Agronomist John Beasley conducted many
of the peanut demonstrations at the Expo farm until his retirement
from UGA several years ago to become an administrator at Auburn
University. In 1992, Beasley conducted peanut tests at the Expo farm
on planting dates, row patterns, and seeding rates. “Expo is a way to
get valuable information to producers, because it’s a demonstration
site for applied research that we can use to come up with answers,”
In 1993, the Expo farm hosted some of the first tests of the
AUPeanuts model developed at Auburn University to help famers
predict when to spray leaf spot fungicides. That same year, a USDA-developed peanut irrigation scheduling model called EXNUT was
used at Expo for the first time. It later became widely used by farmers
under its new name, Irrigator Pro.
By 1994, the Expo farm was able to show an 11-year average
cotton yield of 1,102 pounds of lint per acre. A renewed emphasis
on conservation tillage was made in the Expo fields that year, in an
effort to help farmers meet new conservation compliance requirements in the farm bill.
The 1995 Expo was notable for having the first high-oleic peanuts in field plots. Also, Amadas introduced and demonstrated the
industry’s first 8-row self-propelled peanut combine.
In 1996, the farm grew close-row cotton for stripper harvesting,
planted in 8-inch rows. But stripper harvesting never became a wide
success in the Southeast, mainly because the fiber received severe
price discounts in the marketplace. In 1996, the farm expanded its
planting of Roundup Ready cotton and soybeans, along with new
plantings of additional high-oleic peanut varieties.
FIRST TRANSGENIC DOUBLE-CROP
in 1997, the Expo farm was the site of the first transgenic double-cropping ever planted in the U.S. The plot included laurate canola
followed by BXN cotton from Stoneville. The BXN cotton was genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Buctril. The laurate
canola was from Calgene and was known for producing an oil that
replaced coconut oil and palm kernel oil in products as varied as cosmetics and edible chocolate.
By 1998, Georgia Green had become the main peanut variety
on the Expo farm and on farms in the Southeast. It became widely
planted because of its resistance to the tomato spotted wilt virus
that had destroyed the peanut stands of vulnerable varieties such as
Florunner during previous years.
Throughout its history the Expo farm has been in the forefront
for introducing new irrigation technology. In 1999, for example, the
farm added new irrigation drop nozzles, only about 8 feet from the
ground, offering new efficiency and less water loss compared to
high impact sprinklers that were widely used on irrigated farms in
In 2000, the farm planted its first Bollgard II cotton varieties,
which would become widely available in 2002. It also used the first
Strongarm herbicide that would become widely used in peanuts,
and Valor herbicide that would become widely used in both cotton
and peanuts. New turfgrass plots on the Expo farm during 2000 introduced farmers to this potential alternative crop.
During 2001, a center pivot at the Expo farm was equipped with
one of the first flow meters aimed at measuring the amount of water
used during the growing season. Information from the meters was
needed by state officials who were concerned about limited water
resources and the amount of water used in farming.
Also in 2001, the summer field day featured a corn silage harvesting demonstration. The farm grew its first DP 555 BG/RR cotton variety,
which would become the most widely planted cotton in the Southeast. This variety yielded 1,996 pounds of lint per acre on the Expo farm
during 2002, one of the highest yields recorded that season.
IN FOREFRONT OF TECHNOLOGY
Autonomous (self-driving tractors) have been recently developed
and covered in great detail by the agricultural news media. Sunbelt
Ag Expo visitors saw a predecessor in 2004 when University of Georgia ag engineers brought a remote-controlled robotic tractor for
Some of the nation’s first farm-related tests of unmanned aerial
vehicles, widely known as drones, took place on the Expo farm several years ago. Additional testing in recent years on the farm here and
elsewhere has brought this new technology into the mainstream of
modern farm and crop management.
One of the research studies on the farm this year is focused on
the bermudagrass stem maggot, an emerging pest in bermudagrass
hay fields. It is being conducted by University of Georgia postdoctoral
researcher Lisa Baxter. She’s evaluating six bermudagrass varieties to
see which are most susceptible to the new pest. Her findings thus far
indicate that Alicia is the most susceptible variety, while Tifton 44, Russell, and Coastal are intermediate in susceptibility. The least susceptible
bermudagrass varieties in her test are Tifton 85 and Coastcross II.
University of Georgia Extension forage agronomist Dennis Hancock says yield losses in Alicia can reach 60 percent to 80 percent,
while Coastal’s yield losses will typically be 20 percent to 40 percent.
Losses should be less than 15 percent for Tifton 85 and Coastcross II.
The Expo farm has also demonstrated that alfalfa can be grown in
south Georgia. Hancock says an alfalfa stand was planted on the farm
in 2005 — Bulldog 805 variety was interseeded with Tifton 44, and
some of that alfalfa is still growing here. Hancock says bermudagrass
grown with alfalfa doesn’t need nitrogen fertilizer to produce high