Because of a recent onslaught of plant diseases, such as leaf spot and white mold, Georgia peanut producers are now considering harvesting their crops sooner rather than later, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort.
Rainy weather, persistent cloudiness, and the farmers’ inability to get into the fields to apply fungicides have contributed to the disease issue.
“We’re trying to make sure that everybody gets out in their fields to check the maturity of each individual field and adjusts their harvest plans based on these problems that we’re finding,” Monfort said.
Almost all varieties of peanuts grown in Georgia, including the most common variety – Georgia-06G – are at least somewhat susceptible to leaf spot. This disease can cause the plant’s leaves to wither, turn yellow and fall off. It can also result in lesions on other parts of the plant.
“We have isolated areas where disease has gotten away from some farmers due to the weather. It looks like we’re going to be digging peanuts a little bit early to make sure we don’t lose too much of our crop there,” Monfort said. “That’s going to hurt a little bit on yield potential and grade.”
White mold is one of the top causes of peanut yield loss every year. Sclerotium rolfsii, the agent of white mold, is a fungus that stays in the soil between cropping systems.
Monfort expects some producers who planted in early April to start digging their crop this week. Those who planted a late crop may have about two more months of growing season left.