By Clint Thompson
Scouting remains the No. 1 pest management tool when controlling insects in peanuts. That’s the message University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut entomologist Mark Abney is emphasizing to growers as many begin planting peanuts in the next few weeks.
“When you look at insect management, the No. 1 thing that a grower can do to prevent mistakes is to know what’s going on in the field. The only way to do that is to scout and scout correctly,” Abney said. “Whether the grower does it themselves or hires a consultant or scout, you just can’t make accurate pest management decisions if you don’t know what’s in the field.”
Abney’s challenge is making growers aware that the good yields they’re already producing can be improved with precision pest management. Farmers could also save money by decreasing some of their insecticide applications.
“We can grow a really good crop of peanuts and you can have really good yields without scouting. I call it sloppy pest management. You can do sloppy pest management and still grow really good peanuts,” Abney said. “But we could do better if we were more precise. Growers might be happy with the yields that they’re getting and the lack of insect damage. But they could save money by cutting back on some sprays.
“If you don’t have a scout, you’re doing one of two things; you’re either going to miss some insects sometimes and you’re going to lose some yield because of that, or you’re going to spray when you don’t need to because you don’t know what’s there. You’re either spraying when your neighbor sprays or you spray the first week of August because that’s when the caterpillars usually show up,” Abney said. “You’re leaving money on the table whatever mistake you make.”
Abney said most growers don’t have time to scout peanuts the way they need to be scouted, so he encourages farmers to hire help to help manage insects, including counting bugs.
“It’s hard for me to believe there aren’t young people out there, and I’m not talking about being consultants, just count bugs. It seems like there’s folks out there that would be willing to do that. There’s really good consultants in our state that will do more than just count bugs, they’ll give you those counts and help you make decisions,” Abney said. “Just having the counts will put you way ahead of the game when it comes to insect management.”
He added that growers need to scout once per week.
For more information about insect management in peanuts, see https://site.extension.uga.edu/peanutent/.