I grew up in Mount Vernon. My father is a retired county Extension agent. I grew up in 4-H showing pigs and active in shooting sports. My family also has pecans and pine trees. I was about 5 years old when we planted our first trees. I hold a degree in agribusiness and will have a master’s degree in agriculture and environmental education in August 2020.
I’ve worked in Extension for 14 years, including nine years in my current post in Appling County. Appling County is the third-largest blueberry-producing county in Georgia and the largest organic blueberry-producing county in the state. Appling County is diverse in its agricultural production. Every year the county produces around 30,000 acres of cotton, 10,000 acres of peanuts, 5,000 acres of corn, 1,000 acres of tobacco and 2,000 acres of pecans. There are also about 25 acres of strawberries.
I’ve participated in UGA blueberry research trials that have helped Georgia ascend to the top of the national rankings in blueberry production. Through research trials with UGA specialists in Appling County, I’ve helped identify a way to combat nematodes, using soil fumigants and adding pine bark mulch when blueberry bushes have to be replanted helps to fight pests. My research emphasizes the need to combine soil fumigants with pine bark before treating the soil prior to replanting. This greatly reduces the nematode populations and slows the pest’s development.
I’m also part of a coordinated effort between Extension agents and specialists to research blueberry leaf rust. This foliar disease causes small spots to appear on blueberry leaves. Infected leaves usually drop prematurely, and defoliation leads to a reduced number of blooms and lower yields the following year. My research on disease centers on a newer fungicide that works extremely well on blueberry leaf rust. Instead of multiple applications, this treatment only requires one or two sprays.
I also started and coordinate the Southeast Georgia Pecan Field Day each year in Baxley, Georgia, where more than 200 pecan growers from eighteen counties attend. I am considered an area expert in pecan trees and have been invited to multiple meetings across Georgia to give presentations on pecan production.
My work with blueberries, pecans, and organics in southeastern Georgia helped me earn a 40 under 40 recognition in 2018.
My wife Kim and I are active in our church mission team. Although with kids and work we haven’t been able to go on as many trips as we’d like. We actually met on a mission trip years ago. Typically, we’re doing construction rebuilding work for needy families. With my master’s degree almost complete, I hope I can spend more time serving. We have two children, a son (9) and a daughter (2). My son has been showing pigs for four years. This year he won three showmanship championships and two reserve championships showing pigs. Two years ago we also started breeding show pigs. When I have spare time, I enjoy going to UGA football games, hunting, fishing, and carpentry work.