Rotation, disease management top concerns for new peanut growers

Excellent yields over the past two seasons have growers in new peanut production areas asking the question, ‘Can I get away with growing peanuts back to back?’

University of Georgia plant pathologist Bob Kemerait reminds growers “don’t go with short-term profits and compromise the excellent rotation.”

Rotation is the backbone of disease management in peanuts. He points to the research of fellow University of Georgia plant pathologist Tim Brenneman that shows two years of back-to-back peanuts drops yield and value.

Disease-resistant varieties and a fungicide program that fits your risk round out a well-balanced approach to growing peanuts.

“We encourage growers to keep a good rotation to manage risks and encourage them to look at a fungicide,” Kemerait says.

There are basically two types of new peanut growers. Those who have never grown peanuts before on land that has never grown peanuts, and those who are growing peanuts on land where some other crop, such as cotton, tobacco, vegetables or soybeans have been grown. Peanuts grown on land where soybeans have been are especially susceptible to white mold, limb rot and CBR.

What category a grower falls into will determine how much the risk of diseases will take place.

“You need to have a fungicide program of some sort,” Kemerait says.

Managing risk is key. “If a grower feels they’re in a low risk or moderate risk for diseases, we’ve seen a lot of success with four or five fungicide sprays,” Kemerait says. “They have to time those sprays to be effective and spray again should disease develop.

The University of Georgia combined its disease risk indexes this year. “What we’ve seen so far is a grower who in March and April of the year, is trying to be proactive about diseases, gets a feel about what to expect in the coming year by using the disease index,” Kemerait says. “By growers knowing their risk to diseases, county agents are getting more calls to help farmers interpret the risks. It’s a tool, another example of what the grower should do in certain situations.

“The Index gives growers a quantitative way of looking at disease risk,” Kemerait says. It’s basically, ‘Let’s look at your situation and talk about what seems to be the best program for you. That works for new growers especially. They may not have the experience growing peanuts, but they have the rotation.”

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