Charting Disease Trends

A survey started three years ago evolves into an integrated tool for monitoring disease and guiding research efforts.

peanut survey

Extension agents, research scientists and producers investigate peanut decline symptoms in 2017, which initiated the peanut survey effort.

In 2017, Florida producers experienced a problem in peanut fields that had never been seen before. The phenomenon, coined “peanut collapse” or “peanut decline,” affected approximately 25,000 acres and reduced yields about 1,000 pounds per acre on average in these locations.

At that time, Extension agents and researchers from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences teamed with colleagues from the University of Georgia to investigate the cause.

While no primary culprit was found, a peanut survey was developed to help form a database of information on a regional scale. The purpose of the database was to help correlate factors, predict these events and ultimately lead to solutions.

What Is The Peanut Survey?

Researchers and Extension agents continue to use the peanut survey to monitor known diseases as well as diagnose unknown problems.

In recent years, peanut growers in the north-central and Panhandle regions of Florida have observed an increase in plant health issues during the growing season. Some of these issues are associated with higher rates of disease, insect pests, nematodes, reduced germination and weather-induced stress.

Initially, the peanut survey was used to monitor disease trends over time at key farm sites. Now it is available statewide, and growers are encouraged to take advantage of this resource to help them identify problems in unhealthy peanuts.
In addition to this monitoring plan, if growers experience unknown disease or stress-related issues during the season, the survey can be used to collect random samples for analysis.

New Survey Features

A new aspect of the survey is its integration into a Geographic Information System. By using the ArcGIS online platform, agents and specialists can submit, edit, store and archive georeferenced sample-level data and photos conveniently in one platform.

peanut survey

This leaf symptom was found in 2019 and 2020, but no virus or major nutrient deficiencies were found among the samples where this was routinely observed.

This will allow for the survey data to be integrated with climatic, soil and management data from across the region to allow for a better understanding of regional and local peanut disease trends.

The new ArcGIS online platform and data submission application is customized for the peanut survey to make agent submission easier and more consistent.

How Does It Benefit Producers?

Participating farmers will benefit immediately from free analysis reports on collected samples. Reports cover disease and nematode diagnostics as well as tests on water, soil and foliar tissue nutrient levels. Extension agents can use the reports to help growers troubleshoot field issues and offer advice.

Long-term benefits include helping scientists understand how peanut diseases are progressing in relation to our climatic conditions and management decisions. The information derived will help guide more research initiatives and strengthen the peanut industry in Florida over time.

The UF/IFAS State Peanut Team encourages growers to report the appearance of declining peanuts. Contact your county agent or De Broughton, North Florida Research and Education Center, Suwannee Valley, who is helping coordinate this effort.

The UF/IFAS Peanut Team appreciates the support of the Florida Peanut Federation, the Florida Peanut Producers Association and National Peanut Board in their survey efforts.

Article by De Broughton, UF regional specialized agent for row crops, Ian Small, UF plant pathologist, Ethan Carter, UF regional IPM agent, Marina Burani Arouca, UF Extension program assistant and Tyler Pittman, Gilchrist County Extension agent.