Peanut farmers, mark these dates on your calendar, July 18 through July 20, and plan on a working vacation in Panama City Beach, Fla.

And bring the family. The conference takes place at the Edgewater Beach Resort, a family-friendly location.

The sixth annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference offers farmers and others in the peanut industry an opportunity to bone up on the latest issues in production technology, marketing and legislation.

“We think we have one of our strongest programs in the six-year history of the conference,” says Randy Griggs, executive director of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “We're going to delve into some high-tech issues and will have computers available for hands-on learning opportunities.

“We always have a strong research component to the program and we'll also get some insight into what's going on in Washington.”

The session opens Monday, July 19, with a look at current issues, including congressional activity, international markets and eBay for farmers. A second morning session features a town-hall type discussion with the “market makers.”

Research takes center stage in the afternoon with hands-on eBay demonstrations, discussions on production indexes, an economic outlook, market options and emerging weed problems.

Peanut Profitability Award winners will be announced at a special breakfast on Tuesday. Farm Press Publications representatives will recognize efficient peanut growers from the Southwest, the Southeast and the Virginia/Carolina regions at this annual event. Winners also participate in a panel discussion and discuss proven production practices that improve yield and efficiency. In addition to Farm Press Publications, sponsors include Bayer CropScience (Folicur and Temik), Sipcam Agro, John Deere, U.S. Borax, and Golden Peanut Co.

“This is the fifth year Farm Press Publications has sponsored this prestigious award,” says Paul Hollis, editor of Southeast Farm Press, “and it has grown in stature each year. We are always pleased at the reception our winners get and at how willing they are to share their expertise with growers from across the Peanut Belt.

“The Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award gives us an opportunity to recognize some of the finest farmers in our respective regions,” Hollis says. “We are extremely pleased with the relationship we've developed with the Southern Peanut Growers Federation. The association emphasizes a joint goal: helping peanut farmers improve profitability.”

This year's conference also provides special activities for spouses and children. The conference's first spouse program features a floral design demonstration and a sampling of peanut cuisine from the Edgewater Resort chef.

The children's program features a trip to Gulf World, a marine theme park. Other events include a no-hands peanut butter ice cream eating contest, water balloon toss and other fun and games for children 5 to 12 years of age.

A golf tournament follows the final general session Tuesday morning.

For more information call (229) 386-3470.