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Peanut harvest dates may be moved up due to disease

Some farmers may be moving up their harvest dates for peanuts thanks to the prevalence of disease like leaf spot and white mold.

Agronomists at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension say they are encouraging farmers to frequently check the maturity of their fields and make plans to harvest accordingly, possibly moving up the harvest date.

The Moultrie Observer reports:

A combination of rainy weather, persistent cloudiness and farmers’ inability to get into fields and apply fungicides this summer led to the perfect condition for many diseases.

Almost all varieties of peanuts grown in Georgia — including Georgia’s most commonly produced variety, Georgia-06G — are somewhat susceptible to leaf spot. Leaf spot causes the peanut plant’s leaves to wither, turn yellow and fall off. It can also form lesions on the stem and other parts of the plant.

Among diseases, white mold is one of the top causes of peanut yield loss every year. When growers fail to use proper crop rotations, their peanuts are more at risk of the disease. If farmers consistently grow peanuts behind peanuts in the same field, their crop is at a higher risk of white mold disease. Sclerotium rolfsii, the causal agent of white mold, is a fungus that stays in the soil between cropping systems.

The continued rain, slowed fungicide programs, and shorter rotations are all responsible for the changes in peanut environment.
Georgia is expected to produce more than 650,000 acres of peanuts this year, down from 828,000 in 2017. Three straight weeks of rainfall in late May and an increased commodity price for cotton led growers to switch from growing peanuts to growing cotton, the Moultrie Observer reported.

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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