Challenges in peanut production
John McLemore, County Extension Agent
This week I would like to share the challenges peanut growers are facing this season. The information in this week's article is a collection of conversations with local farmers, farm service suppliers, and my weekly observations throughout our county.
This growing season has been a challenge for local growers because of extreme heat which leads to dry environmental conditions. A few growers have access to irrigation but, even that was not enough to overcome the challenges in peanuts. This season growers have dealt with minimal white mold, minimal early leaf spot (Cercospora arachidicola), moderate late leaf spot, nematodes and extreme tomato spotted wilt virus (Bunyaviridae Tospovirus).
Early season moisture creates perfect conditions for white mold and leaf spot disease developments. Winds from storms further spread disease by moving spores. Growers had to be timely with fungicides to reduce the chance for a disease outbreak. It is to be noted, tomato spotted wilt virus is transmitted to peanuts by thrips (Thysanoptera). This virus is commonly identified by leaf bronzing, necrotic leafspots, off color, crumpled appearance, and stunted plant height. The challenges peanut growers face dictate harvest date, yield, and shelling grade.
Plant diseases have a significant effect on peanut yields. Growers address this issue by adjusting planting date, timely fungicide applications, and recommended chemical practices. In some cases, peanuts have to be dug about two weeks before maturity due to decline in vine health. A decline in vine health results in pods detaching themselves from the hulls, in hull seed germination, yield loss, and a decrease in shelling grade.
Coffee County peanut growers rely on extension services to provide the latest research to help better their life on the farm. Each year brings unique challenges, however, without cooperative efforts between growers, extension, and local agricultural suppliers Coffee County's peanut production wouldn't be what it is today.