By Clint Thompson
Tomato spotted wilt virus’ (TSWV) presence in peanuts was widespread in 2022. Scott Monfort, University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist, wants his growers to avoid a similar fate this season.
TSWV was the trendy topic during the recent UGA Peanut Production seminar at the Georgia Peanut Farm Show. Monfort discussed the virus and what growers need to do to improve from last year.
“We have gotten somewhat complacent about what we do. We are planting in April and planting a third of the crop in April. That pushes that risk up,” Monfort said. “For some odd reason we only have half of our crop that uses Thimet which is one of those insecticides that improves the resistance response to tomato spotted wilt. We’ve got growers that are not doing Thimet, not doing all of the other recommended agronomic practices that we recommend to reduce the risk. We went up quite a bit in some areas that hopefully we won’t repeat.
“Who knows? We may be cold all the way through March and if we are the virus may not be that bad. But it’s like anything else, how much risk are you willing to take? We got a little bit sidetracked here on using products and planting in cooler conditions, and it bit us hard in some areas.”
Planting date is a vital factor in the potential development of TSWV. The lowest risk timeframe is peanuts planted after May 10. But Monfort is the first to say he is not advocating for farmers to plant all of their crop after May 10.
“Our highest yield potential periods most of the time is between April 26 and May 10 which is in part of the risky area. I say, yeah, if we want that yield potential, why are we not planting at that time? But this disease is complex. We can’t do one thing and not think about the other,” Monfort said. “If you’re going to plant in April for that yield potential, you’ve got to do everything else to minimize thrips and minimize the virus. If you’re not thinking about doing that, then yes, I would think about planting after May 10.”
Monfort also shot down the narrative that the Georgia-06G variety is the reason for the virus’ resurgence.
“The whole thing about 06G is giving out is 100% false. If you look at my variety trials where we do everything right, and some of them we planted early and we lost a little bit compared to mid-May, but if you look at where 06G is on that list, it’s in the top three every time,” Monfort said. “It’s not giving out.”
TSWV is vectored by thrips, tiny insects that can spread the virus by feeding on infected plants. Infected thrips transmit the virus when they move to feed on healthy plants. The virus can dwarf plants and cause significant reductions in peanut yields.