Peanut producers in the Southeast have various factors they need to be concerned with right now. That goes for if they operate in dryland or have an irrigated crop, says Scott Monfort, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist.
The extreme dry conditions are a major concern for growers with dryland peanuts. Monfort estimates about 50% of Georgia’s crop is on dryland. For growers who are trying to treat diseases like white mold, a lack of rainfall can be detrimental.
“We may not get 100% activity out of that because of the dry weather but you need to stay on that program and you need to pay attention to your insect situation; that being lesser cornstalk borers, spider mites, any of that kind of stuff,” Monfort said.
According to the US Drought Monitor, various parts of Georgia are listed as abnormally dry, including peanut-producing counties Worth, Dougherty and Mitchell. In Alabama, Henry, Dale and Barbour Counties, all located along the Alabama-Georgia border are classified as abnormally dry.
“As we’ve gone over the past week and me traveling all over the state, it doesn’t matter where you are at, we’ve had dry conditions all over the state. (The plants are) wilted up already in the morning time. You know that we’re dry. We don’t like to see that this early,” Monfort said. “We would love to get through July and part of August before that happens, but that’s not the way it seems.”
Peanuts are at about 60 to 70 days on most of the crop. Monfort is confident that if the rains start picking up soon, especially in early August, the crop should be fine.
“If it comes back and we start to get these systems and it starts raining, and we get rain through August, it’s not going to hurt us very much at all. It may push the crop back a little bit, but a peanut is very unique in a situation if we get moisture 70 to 75 days, we can put on that crop,” Monfort said. “I’m not as worried at this point but the thing about it is, we just see that yield potential coming down because of the rain situation or drought situation.”
Irrigated peanuts look strong at this point. But there are concerns to be mindful of.
“The one thing you’ve got to worry about there is, we’re putting in moisture and we’ve got plenty of heat, probably more heat than what we want, so what does that bring about? Disease,” Monfort said. “We’re already seeing a lot of white mold. Growers really need to take care and keep on the program.”
White mold is often the No. 1 cause of the loss of peanuts due to disease in a season. Sclerotium rolfsii, the causal agent of white mold, is a fungus that remains in the soil between cropping systems. It waits for the next susceptible crop to be planted.
The disease becomes more of a problem when growers fail to use proper crop rotations. Growing peanuts behind peanuts is highly discouraged because of diseases like white mold. Because of its ability to move underground, it is extremely hard to manage with fungicides.