Reid Larry Torrance
2003 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension
Mr. Reid Torrance, Tattnall County Extension Service Coordinator, is considered a national leader in the Vidalia onion industry. Tattnall County is one of the largest agricultural counties in Georgia, with an annual farm income of $165 million. Such a large agricultural county requires a knowledgeable and adept Extension agent to address the needs of a diverse, demanding clientele.
Tobacco, pork, poultry, pecans, cotton and a variety of vegetables are important commodities in Tattnall County, but the top crop is the Vidalia sweet onion. Local growers produce about half of Georgia's farmed crop, and the demand for onion production information far exceeds that of the other commodities produced there.
Torrance has been integral to the development of the Vidalia onion since he came to Tattnall County in 1984. He is perhaps the industry's most knowledgeable onion expert in Georgia. Farmers, agribusinesses and research groups from all over the world sought his advice and input regarding onion production, storage and marketing.
Torrance has made invited presentations at such events as the New York State Vegetable Conference, American Society of Horticultural Science Annual Conferences, Alliums 2000 -- The 3rd International Symposium on Edible Alliaceae and the National Crop Insurance Service Annual Field Forces Conference. He has also been a guest speaker for civic groups all around the state, and he has been interviewed by numerous regional and national magazines, newspapers and television networks.
In the past five years, he authored or co-authored 77 publications, including 11 professional journal articles. These publications are indicative of his determination to be on the cutting edge of the challenges facing agriculture and his dedication to his profession.
Torrance led in developing the way onions are grown in Georgia, and extension recommendations are based on his advice. In fact, he co-authored five sections of the award-winning 2001 Onion Production Guide.
Torrance is largely responsible for bringing mechanical harvesting to Georgia's onion industry. He played a pivotal role in the protection of the Vidalia onion name by assuring that standards were set for recommending varieties. He initiated the establishment of the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center and played a lead role in its development. He is involved in much more than the onion industry. He conducts trials in forestry, peanuts, tobacco and many vegetables. He has been involved in a multiyear study on the use of poultry litter as a forest fertilizer and has conducted a forest vegetation management study for the past four years.
Last year he established a farmer cooperative, Farm Fresh Tattnall, for the joint promotion of U-Pick and roadside vegetable markets, and received $40,000 in grants and contributions for the effort.
Torrance recently served as East Region director for the Alpha Beta Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi and served a two-year term as state membership chairman for the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents. He served on the college committee addressing compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act and continues to serve on the Vidalia Onion Variety Evaluation Committee. He was recently elected by his peers to serve his second term as a member of the College Faculty Council. He is also serving on the CAES Strategic Modeling Committee on Extension Delivery Systems. Locally, Torrance is the chair of Tattnall 2012, a strategic planning effort for economic development.