By Clint Thompson
Peanut planting season is upon us and farmers need to be wary of potential thrips pressure when they begin planting their crop, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut entomologist Mark Abney.
He wants producers to be prepared by applying an insecticide at planting.
“If you plant peanuts, you’re going to have thrips. There’s a lot of things you can do to reduce the risk and the intensity of thrips’ infestations. You can adjust your plant dates, plant twin-row peanuts or you can plant strip-til to cover,” Abney said. “All of those things will reduce the numbers of thrips you see. But you’re still going to have thrips. I think that it’s a wise investment, I think you’ll see a return on investment in most years by putting an insecticide in the furrow at planting to control thrips.”
Thrips are tiny insects that can spread the tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) by feeding on infected plants. Infected thrips then transmit the virus when they move into healthy peanut fields and feed. The virus reproduces within the plants and can be spread as thrips disperse within the field. The virus can dwarf plants and cause significant reductions in peanut yields.
The threat of TSWV is greatest for Georgia peanuts planted prior to May 10. TSWV dates back almost 40 years, when it was discovered in Texas. After showing up in Louisiana and Alabama, the disease was detected in Georgia in the 1990s, where it caused widespread damage to the state’s crop.
While it’s important for growers to be proactive in managing thrips, they also need to scout, which remains the No. 1 management tool when controlling insects in peanuts.
For more information about insect management in peanuts, see https://site.extension.uga.edu/peanutent/.