GA peanuts get X-ray treatment -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

GA peanuts get X-ray treatment

New technology being developed in South Georgia could revolutionize the way peanuts are graded. The U.S.D.A. is now testing an X-ray machine that grades peanuts at a South Georgia buying point. That X-ray grading machine will be tested across the nation for the next two months to see if it will be approved by the government for use.

The way peanuts are graded is pretty much the same that was done in the 1940's. Cracking the peanuts open by hand and weighing them. Scientists from the National Peanut Research Lab in Dawson think technology has developed a better way.

The BestRay x-ray machine will be tested grading peanuts from South Georgia to New Mexico over the next two months. The peanuts are poured into a bucket, down onto a conveyor belt, through the machine where each kernel is X-rayed, recorded, for a perfect grade.

 "This machine will do it more efficiently," said U.S.D.A. National Peanut Research Lab Agricultural Engineer Hank Sheppard.

Currently, six people break open the sample of the farmer's stock, and run them through several machines at the Fudge Buying Points in Colquitt. It takes more than ten minutes to grade each sample this way. The X-ray grader will do the same in about two minutes with one person.

 "It will tell you the size of every kernel that's in the sample. So they will have a better understanding of what they are buying, compared to the conventional method,"  Sheppard said.

The U.S.D.A. will test the X-ray grader to test the samples brought into Fudge Buying Point this week, to see how it compares to the conventional method. 2:08:49

"I think it's going to be real good. I think it will help use to maintain accuracy, speed us up so we can save on labor costs, and just have consistent sample for the farmer,"  said Fudge Buying Point Manager Rodney Brown.

The head of the Georgia Federal State Inspection Service is tracking the testing of the machine to make sure that it can be trusted in real field conditions, before it is approved for use. 

 "What the peanut samples, we are going to get a sheet of the grades on that machine. Then we are going to bring them in to this machine. The same sample, and see how it compares to what it grades on these machines," said Director of the Georgia Federal State Inspection Service T. E. Moye.

The grader is installed a trailer, and after it's been tested here in South Georgia, it will travel to Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, and North Carolina before it returns to North Georgia for more testing. 

 If the X-ray grading machine passes the testing, and is approved by the USDA, it could go into use next peanut season. Each of the Belgium-made machines costs about $70,000.

Peanut buying points say they think the machines can pay for themselves in savings on labor costs.


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