Peanut farmers invest in latest storage technology - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Peanut farmers invest in latest storage technology

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January 6, 2005

Tift County- From Highway 41, you can see Tifton Quality Peanuts is beginning to bubble up.

This dome is the latest in peanut industry technology. The owners are South Georgia farmers.

"What they're doing here is that they are spending their money to buy the best technology available for storage and state-of-the-art technology for shelling," said Larry Lemley, CEO of Tifton Quality Peanuts, LLC.

So what's so special about the dome?

"The domes are unique," said Alan Collins, vice president of sales and marketing. "They are state-of-the art and the will force the industry probably to follow us."

"Normal storage today in the industry has condensation problems, infestation problems and eventually flavor problems because peanuts are stored over so long a period of time over a year," Lemley said.

Not anymore. Tempertures inside won't vary more than five or six degrees. When the dome is complete, it will be filled with up to 11,000 tons of peanuts. Then it will be sealed, keeping peanuts as fresh as the day they were pulled from the ground.

There will be three storage domes and a cold storage warehouse. Just a few steps away, workers are getting ready to begin building the shelling plant. The plant is expected to be operating by June and will employee between 45 and 50 people.

"It's a 20-ton an hour shelling plant," Collins said. "We'll be able to shell somewhere in the region of 90,000 tons a year, up to 90,000 tons a year."

In less than a year, the company will change the way these farmers sell their crop.

"They now have a world market available to them," Lemley said. "We have hundreds of customers that they can sell their shelled peanuts to."

That's a change farmers like Ken Hall were looking for.

"We were looking for ways to add profit to our product and keep that profit at home," Hall said.

The bubble will be part of what makes this business venture worth the work.

posted at 9:52 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com