Across Georgia

Peanut crop is likely to be smallest in 20 years


ATLANTA — A combination of drought, disease and an economic shift to other crops could make Georgia’s peanut harvest one of the smallest in more than two decades and increase the price of peanut products.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that in a normal year, Georgia produces about 1 million tons of peanuts, or roughly half the country’s total harvest. This year’s production totals will not be known until the harvest has finished, but a good harvest would likely produce only 650,000 to 700,000 tons, said Don Koehler, the head of the Georgia Peanut Commission.

The latest forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts nationwide production will be down roughly 17 percent this year, said Scott Sanford of the U.S. Farm Service Agency.

The maker of Jif, the biggest-selling peanut butter, has said it expects to raise prices 30 percent in November because of “significantly higher peanut costs.”

Spicy fish dish brings bomb squad to airport

ATLANTA — Police say a bomb squad called to the world’s busiest airport found something fishy about a piece of unclaimed luggage – spicy fish wrapped up in aluminum foil.

Baggage handlers going through unclaimed luggage Monday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport thought something was amiss and called police. The Atlanta Police Department shut down about half of the baggage claim area for an hour and ordered passengers to stand back 200 feet.

Upon inspection, police found the package didn’t contain explosives. But the baggage handlers’ suspicions of something odd proved right.

An investigator said a traveler apparently was trying to spice up some fish with herbs while flying, something the investigator said had been seen before. Police say the fishy luggage has not been reconnected with its owner.

Perry plans speech to conservative group

ATLANTA — Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry will make his Georgia debut with a speech Friday before a conservative think tank.

The Texas governor will speak about taxes, torts and his home state’s economy in a speech in Atlanta to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, which is holding its 2011 legislative conference.

Perry will also headline a lunchtime fundraiser Friday at an upscale Atlanta restaurant.

Perry has already lined up some prominent support in the state, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Trooper shoots ‘irate’ motorist at golf event

ATLANTA — A Georgia state trooper shot a motorist accused of forcing his way past a barricade at the PGA Tour Championship and dragging another officer.

Georgia State Patrol Capt. Paul Cosper said Gerald Williams tried driving into a barricaded area near East Lake Golf Club around 7 p.m. Sunday.

Cosper said that when police told Williams he couldn’t enter the lot, he became “irate.” When a trooper opened the car’s door, Williams hit the gas and dragged the officer a short distance.

Another trooper fired twice, wounding Williams. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and obstruction.

The troopers have been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, which is standard procedure.

– From wire reports