By Clint Thompson
All things considering, Southeast peanut producers are producing a strong crop. But with harvest time getting closer, growers need to stay vigilant with their fungicide sprays, especially amid a saturated summer.
“What’s top of mind right now is being timely. I’ve been in a lot of fields, and we’ve seen plenty of leaf spot and white mold in some places, but in other places, growers have done a good job. They’ve been timely, and you have to hunt to find diseases,” said Wilson Faircloth, agronomic service representative with Syngenta. “I think growers have done a pretty good job of being vigilant. Certainly, UGA and others have warned and said, ‘Let’s be careful.’ ‘Let’s be cautious.’ ‘Let’s make sure we’re selecting the right products.’ White mold and leaf spot are out there, but not many people are calling with a disaster, which is hard to believe given the situation that we’re in.”
Timeliness is the key for producers who have dealt with persistent rains this summer and expected to receive a lot more this week with Tropical Storm Fred.
“If you look around at these fields, there’s some of the prettiest peanuts you’ll see. Pull up the vines and you’ll see a good load of nuts. We have a very good crop. But the next 30 to 40 days is still a make-or-break time,” Faircloth said.
Another concern, though, is the potential of a prolonged dry period this fall. It could be detrimental to dryland peanuts.
“We have a very shallow rooted crop. If we cut the water off, it hurts them. In other words, if you’re going to have a drought, you’d much rather have a drought in June, forcing the plant to send down roots for water sources down deep,” Faircloth said. “Now you’ve got a plant that’s shallow rooted. When the topsoil gets dry, it doesn’t have much to go to. There’s concern if that happens of how the dryland crop can maintain itself.”
Approximately half of Georgia’s peanut crop is produced in dryland fields, or fields without access to irrigation.