The challenge to combat disease and maximize profits is on.
Last year’s record crop has stocked the market with an ample supply and reduced 2013 contract prices. While the industry will need nearly one million acres planted to peanuts this year, growers must optimize production to capture needed returns and that likely means fine-tuning disease management programs.
“Peanut growers will be up against the same disease threats this year as they had last year, but they’ll have a much tighter profit margin to work with,” says Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia Extension plant pathologist.
Bond McInnes, fungicide technical manager with DuPont Crop Protection, adds that when market prices are low, building the right fungicide program becomes more critical than ever. “That’s the key to remaining profitable when prices are not as robust as you would like,” he says.
Kemerait and McInnes outline steps growers can take to help increase return on investment in what will likely be a challenging year for production profits.
Unusual temperatures across much of the South are expected to affect plant health this year.
“If temperatures continued to be above average, white mold would be a primary threat,” says Kemerait. “However, recent colder-than-normal temperatures in March have growers thinking about Cylindrocladium black rot. Should temperatures early in the season remain cooler and wetter than normal, then CBR and not white mold may be the main concern for our growers.
“By anticipating the weather and its effect on disease pressure, growers can plan for the most targeted and effective disease- control solutions.”
Kemerait points to the Peanut Rx program developed by university researchers from Georgia, Alabama and Florida as a valuable tool to help growers plan for the 2013 growing season. The program uses field history, seed variety, crop rotation and other factors to determine the risk of infection from a particular disease and prescribe customized fungicide recommendations.
“The Peanut Rx program helps growers incorporate more premium and powerful products in the most cost-effective way,” Kemerait says. “If the analysis indicates that crops have a lower risk for certain diseases, companies such as DuPont will stand behind fewer fungicide applications.”
The Right Management Program
The ideal disease control program targets production-limiting diseases with the fewest fungicide applications. Balancing generic options with fungicides that have strong, powerful coverage is one way to achieve effective control and save input costs.
One effective strategy is to start with a low-cost foliar spray such as tebuconazole tank-mixed with a fungicide for leaf spot protection 30 to 40 days after planting. Such a mixture protects the peanut crop from leaf spot and lays the foundation for an effective white mold program. Then, during the heart of the growing season, follow up with a highly effective, preventive fungicide product, such as DuPont Fontelis fungicide, to target soilborne diseases including white mold and Rhizoctonia limb rot while providing superior foliar leaf spot control.
“Applied 60 to 105 days after planting, Fontelis delivers powerful foliar control while protecting roots and pods and to help maximize yield potential,” McInnes says.
He adds that the new active ingredient in Fontelis makes it an ideal rotation partner, allowing growers to fill in with other products to promote resistance management while managing costs.
Kemerait notes that rotation flexibility is a critical factor when selecting a fungicide program.
“We want to keep the fungicides we have active and efficacious for as many years as possible,” he says. “One way to do that is to rotate chemistries. Fontelis fungicide offers that flexibility and fits well in resistance management programs.”
Key Disease Management Points:
• Use tools such as Peanut Rx to customize management programs.
• Warmer temperatures favor white mold outbreaks; cool, wet conditions means CBR.
• Balance newer fungicides with generic options and flexible tank mixes for cost savings.
Make The Most Of Every Application
Both Kemerait and McInnes emphasize that whatever fungicide program a grower chooses, the most important thing is to make the most of every application.
“This year, more than ever, growers cannot afford to waste an ounce of their crop protection investment,” Kemerait says. “That means preparing well for each pass through the field.”
Preparation starts with diligent scouting to pinpoint optimum application timing. Equipment setup is also critical.
“Adjust calibration, make wise nozzle selections and consider adding adjuvants to enhance spray coverage and efficacy,” says Kemerait. “Doing the homework and getting the details right will help growers get the maximum benefit from every application.”
When possible, combine fungicide applications with insecticide or herbicide applications to enhance efficiency.
“The benefit of a flexible product like Fontelis is that it makes an excellent tank-mix partner, reducing trips through the field and saving fuel, labor and time,” McInnes says. He adds that the fungicide’s curative control adds an extra layer of protection when dealing with less-than-ideal application timing.
“Even with the best-laid plans, the business of farming requires dealing with the unexpected,” McInnes says. “When equipment failures or weather events delay an application, it pays to have a flexible product in the tank that can clean up any established diseases while providing preventive control to see you through to the next application.” PG
Submitted on behalf of DuPont Crop Protection.