Worms threaten peanut crop

Farmers need to be scouting their fields as I have been seeing an increase in worms this past week.

Armyworms in pastures, corn earworms and fall armyworms in cotton, and corn earworms, Southern armyworms, loopers, fall armyworms and velvetbean caterpillars in peanuts have been seen in high enough numbers to warrant a treatment in some fields.

The recent rains and cooler temperatures have resulted in an excellent pod set in most peanut fields. We have perfect conditions for white mold, but so far I have been seeing very little in the county. We are very fortunate because neighboring Berrien and Irwin counties, along with close-by Wayne County, have reported an explosion of white mold. I talked to Pierce County Extension Agent James Jacobs last week and he is also reporting very little white mold.

Even though I have seen little white mold, farmers need to stick to a tight peanut fungicide program given the ideal conditions for the spread of the disease.

One question I have been asked quite often given the late peanut crop is at what point (days after planting) is it too late for a peg that is just entering the ground to make a pod that will be harvestable and grade out as a sound mature kernel?

It depends on the variety, but for the most part, for mid-maturing varieties such as Georgia Green and Georgia-06G, any peg that enters the soil after 90 days after planting will not have time to make a harvestable pod.

When growers look at the hull-scrape maturity profile chart, they will notice it has 25 columns, with two columns representing one week, or a total of 12.5 weeks (87 days) from when a peg enters the soil until it reaches optimal maturity. It takes about 45 to 50 days from when a peg enters the soil until it reaches a stage of a “sound mature kernel” pod that can be harvested.

If a grower has a field of a mid-maturing variety that is 90 days after planting, then pegs just beginning to swell would need a minimum of 45 days to get to 135 days after planting, which is just about time for harvest.

Growers can extend the time to about 100 days for mid-late varieties like Florida-07 and Georgia-07W or late-maturing varieties like Georgia-02C. The bottom line is that after 90 days after planting any pegs that enter the soil will probably not make it to harvest.

TAGS: Peanuts
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