Dec. 8, 2015
                Tifton, Georgia

         (478) 227-7126


Pecan specialist Lenny Wells with the  University of Georgia Cooperative Extension fears Georgia's pecan crop will fail to meet initial production projections by as much as 20 million pounds .

Instead of the 110 to 120 million pounds projected at the start of the harvest season, Georgia is now expected to produce
VIDEO: State pecans will be marketed more, the Georgia Farm Monitor reports.
between 90 and 100 million pounds of pecans, Wells said.

Wells' forecast comes on the heels of the start of the pecan harvest, when weather conditions were less than ideal. Georgia pecan producers prefer cooler and drier weather, which help to preserve the crop for as long as possible on the tree. This fall's warmer weather combined with rain showers led to a deterioration in the quality.

"We're starting to see some quality issues to the point that the percent of the kernel (that's filled) is running a little bit low, lower than normal," Wells said. 

 "The size of the pecans is good, but to some extent that could be part of the problem. Any time you have a large nut size with a heavy crop load on the tree, it's hard for the tree to fill those kernels, even under the best conditions."

The average pecan typically has 50 percent of its kernel filled. The Desirable pecan variety -- Georgia's most widely grown type -- usually has as much as 53 percent of its 
Lenny Wells
kernel filled but has dropped to 47 percent this year in many orchards, Wells said.

The UGA Extension expert blames cloudy weather toward the end of September for the reduced kernel fill.

"Any time we get extended periods of cloudy weather during kernel-filling time, that can cause some problems for us and make it harder for that tree to fill the nuts out," Wells said. "I think that's a lot of the problem we're seeing with the quality being lower than we'd like to see."

Wells said unseasonably warmer weather this fall -- above 80 degrees during October and November -- followed by heavy rainfall also led to sprouting in Stuart varieties. Sprouting refers to premature germination of the seed while it is still on the tree.

In addition to weather-related problems, Georgia pecan growers fought late-season aphids and spider mites in September. Producers had to apply additional spray applications to preserve their crop, he said.


Daniel Gibson of Tifton has been honored with the President's Award for Academic Excellence at Valdosta State University.

The award is presented to the graduating student with the highest grade point average in each of VSU's five colleges. 

Gibson is scheduled to receive a bachelor of arts in music, with a focus in music education as a vocal performer, at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, in the VSU P.E. Complex. He will serve as the official banner carrier for the College of the Arts during the commencement ceremony.

Gibson, the son of Brian and Judith Gibson, is a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. He has also been a member of VSU's Chamber Singers and Spotlighters and was one of 40 students who participated in VSU's musical journey through Historic England in March 2014. 

He is the recipient of the 2014-2015 Department of Music's Outstanding Student Award. After graduation, he hopes to teach high school choir.

Special fund benefits Tift Regional's hospice and cancer patients
Annual lighting ceremony to be held on Dec. 10
Area residents will honor family and friends and remember lost loved ones at the Tree of Life lighting ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m., held on the front lawn at Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC). 

An annual holiday tradition in its 30th year, the Tree of Life is sponsored by the Tifton Junior Woman's Club, raising money for a special fund benefiting patients of the TRMC Oncology Center and Hospice of Tift Area with special needs. 
Christie Moore, left, with Dianne Cowart
With various giving levels, lights for the tree are purchased in memory or honor of a special family member or friend.   
As a past bereavement coordinator and board member for Hospice of Tift Area, Dianne Cowart can attest to the value that hospice care can provide a family. Cowart experienced the other side of hospice when her husband passed away in 2014.
Dianne Cowart was originally an educator in the public school system and an administrator at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Upon retiring, she became the bereavement counselor for Hospice of Tift Area. "I was licensed in counseling and had personal experience in caregiving. I knew a little about how hospice worked and what it entailed, but learned much more when I began working with Hospice of Tift Area," says Cowart.
Cowart says she learned so many techniques from the caregivers she came in contact with. She especially learned techniques to help families ease the obvious loss they were experiencing. Cowart says, "Grief doesn't begin only when a person dies; it sometimes begins when the process of loss takes place. Caregivers mourn in little bits and pieces when their loved one can no longer drive, experience mobility, loses their sense of humor, etc."
Through her experience as a bereavement coordinator, Dianne realized there is no magic phrase or action that can erase loss or make it better, but sometimes, all families need is someone to be there for them. 

"Going through it is the only way to deal with it. That's what hospice is all about. The employees can't go through the grief for you, but they can be a sounding board or the security blanket you may need when dealing with loss. They can really help a family make it through a loss as it is occurring," says Cowart.
In the back of her mind, Dianne thought she might need hospice services someday -- and she did. She and her husband of 59 years, W.H. Cowart (also known as "Dub", "Bill" or "Bart" to family and friends), found themselves needing hospice care in 2014. Mr. Cowart experienced declining health issues for several years including COPD, arthritis, and diabetes. The Cowarts chose to downsize and built a house next to their daughter's pond.
Mr. Cowart never liked hospitals and didn't want to stay in them for any length of time. He and Dianne had a few short conversations about end of life care, but he never questioned using hospice over being in a hospital. His family prepared for him to stay at home, where he enjoyed being able to get up and go through his routine, like enjoying his coffee on the porch in the mornings. Dianne says, "We were all able to step into normalcy as we knew what was going to happen. He treated his nurses and caregivers like friends who were stopping by to visit."
The staff at Hospice of Tift Area cared for Mr. Cowart until he passed, the day after Valentine's Day in 2014. T he advice Dianne gives to families making the decision to use hospice is this: "If you are trying to decide whether hospice is the right choice for your loved one and family, it may feel like you are giving up. It doesn't necessarily mean you have given up on your loved one; it's just changing gears and providing them with the normalcy they may need."
The Cowarts are just one of many families who have benefitted from the services provided by Hospice of Tift Area and enjoy attending the annual Tree of Life ceremony.
"The Tree of Life provides much needed aid to cancer, hospice or seriously ill patients who are feeling financial pressures while undergoing treatment or care," said Christie Moore, director of Hospice of Tift Area. "The fund helps to pay for utility bills, groceries or special comforts." 
The decorative tree will be illuminated with a ceremonial pull of the switch by family members of patients who have received services from Hospice of Tift Area or the TRMC Oncology Center.
The evening will also feature live holiday music, a poignant candlelight ceremony and a visit from Santa Claus, as well as a free dinner presented by the TRMC Food Services Department. "Real" snow will even cover the ground.
In addition to enjoying the festivities, a tax-deductible gift can be made by purchasing a light for the Tree of Life in memory or honor of a friend, co-worker or loved one. Various giving levels are available. For more information about the Tree of Life or to make a contribution, call 229-353-6318. To download a contribution form,  Click Here.

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Workshop Set Tonight

The Tiftarea YMCA is hosting a free basic bike maintenance workshop on Tuesday, Dec. 8, between 6:15 and 7 p.mblue-bike.jpg

The basics will be  demonstrated, including fixing flat tires and cleaning chains. There will be  some bikes on hand to demonstrate, but you are encouraged to bring your own  bicycle

Additional bike maintenance issues will be discussed, depending on  folks' interest and questions.

The workshop will be in the TRMC Community Event Center directly next to the YMCA entrance on Carpenter Road.


This past weekend's Hometown Holiday Christmas Celebration is widely seen as a big success in Tifton. Thousands of people came to Downtown Tifton on Saturday to celebrate. There were carnival rides, a zip line, ice skating, music, food, shopping and lots of fun.

Here are a few scenes posted on social media:

                                        Downtown Tifton on Saturday night.                   Tiftarea News photo

                                            Ice Skating in Tifton.       Dick Marti photo

                                                          Tifton Christmas Parade.                      Lanthanum  


John Lennon, singer-songwriter-musician and founding member of the Beatles, would have turned 75 on October 9, 2015. Lennon was murdered 35 years ago today outside his New York City apartment building, The Dakota, shot in the back four times by a deranged fan, Mark David Chapman, the night of December 8, 1980. He was 40 years old.


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