Macie Wheeler

Macie Wheeler

Macie Wheeler

Macie Wheeler is a Graduate Research Assistant in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department from Thomasville, Georgia. Although she did not grow up in 4-H or FFA, she did have a passion for hard work, the outdoors, and an appreciation for where her food and fibers came from. She obtained a bachelor’s in Environmental Horticulture from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in the fall of 2020. During her time at ABAC is where she discovered her passion for agriculture.

Wheeler began working at the University of Georgia (UGA) – Tifton as a Student Worker, under Drs. Wayne Hanna and Dr. Brian Schwartz in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department (Plant Breeding and Genomics). While there, she was encouraged to pursue graduate school, because of career goals with extension and research. Her goal before beginning graduate school was to become well-rounded and knowledgeable of the major crops in the south. Also, during her time there Dr. Schwartz introduced her to Dr. Scott Monfort, who would later become her co-advisor.

For her peanut project, Wheeler is studying the effect of in-furrow fertilizers on peanut germination. Plant fertilizers are typically recommended in a 2x2 (2 inches down x 2 inches to the side) application in row crops such as corn and cotton. However, they have never been recommended in peanuts. The utilization of in-furrow applications for inoculants in peanuts has provided the opportunity for the industry to recommend other in-furrow products, including fertilizer. This project was started in a bare-ground greenhouse last , during the winter. More research Ffollowed up, this growing season with two on-farm trials, one irrigated and one dry land. Multi-state trials are also being conducted in the peanut belt to evaluate the effects of in-furrow fertilizer in different climates and growing conditions

With the assistance of her co-advisors and the UGA Southwest district, she has projects in turf and an assistantship at the Worth County Extension office, as well. Wheeler’s turfgrass project is with Dr. Brian Schwartz., Associate Professor in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department. It is a mowing frequency height assessment to discover a zoysia grass cultivar(s) more suitable for homeowners. These cultivars could benefit homeowners economically by reducing the amount of mowing required. Zoysia is an overall lower maintenance grass that requires less fertilizer and is more shade tolerant. Unfortunately, zoysia grasses are is not perfect as, they can need to be watered often and are typically more susceptible to diseases. These experimental cultivars are still in evaluation and being researched to their full potential, but Dr. Brian Schwartz and the Turf Team are hopeful for a release in the future.

In Worth County, Wheeler works under ANR Agent, Scott Carlson and 4-H Agent, Kristen Ford. Every day looks different and, generally, she works 20 hours a week answering grower calls, making farm visits, attending educational training, performing trials from UGA Extension Specialists, and working in the office. In addition, she attendeding Junior-Senior Project Achievement at Rock Eagle, assisted with Cloverleaf Project Achievement, and attended summer camp. 

A learning curve that Macie she faced when beginning graduate school, was that most classes and meetings were being held through Zoom. This caused difficulty as she was attempting to find her place a community within a new school and program. As the school has gradually made the change back to in-person learning, she has begun to discover and integrate herself into the community here at UGA.

by Caraline Coombs, student assistant, UGA Peanut Team Media