Mississippi agriculture will enter new territory when the first certified peanut seed grown in the state becomes available to growers in spring 2010. This industry first was achieved by brothers Mike and Heath Steede on 47 acres of their family-owned farm in Lucedale, Miss.

“This is a great accomplishment and important step forward for Mississippi agriculture. It is truly encouraging to see farmers taking advantage of new opportunities to grow our emerging peanut industry,” said Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Lester Spell.

Peanuts have gained popularity in Mississippi by adding diversity to production cycles, maximizing land use, and carrying a lower risk of disease. Growers should stay updated on current product information and practice disease management to make peanuts profitable.

“Peanuts are very well-suited for the soil in Mississippi and fit into rotation well behind corn and cotton,” Bennie Keith, Mississippi Crop Improvement Association executive secretary, said.

MCIA provides certification standards for genetic identity, purity, and quality of seed. Farmers purchasing quality seed decrease their risk of encountering poor stands, low plant yields, plant pests, and diseases. Certified seed carries a blue tag label which indicates the seed meets certification standards, was properly rotated in the field, handled with inspected and approved equipment, and laboratory tested. The State Seed Laboratory, operated by MDAC’s Bureau of Plant Industry, must perform germination and purity testing before seed can be certified.

For additional information regarding seed certification and testing, contact State Seed Laboratory Director, Fabian Watts, at (662)325-3390 or Fabian@mdac.state.ms.us or MCIA Executive Secretary, Bennie Keith, at (662)325-3211 or bkeith@mcia.msstate.edu.