The relationship between peanut yield and insect management is complicated.
• By Amanda Huber •
University of Georgia Extension entomologist Mark Abney offers four keys to successful insect management in 2018.
⇒ Monitor pest populations regularly.
Understanding the risk factors that contribute to pest outbreaks and weekly scouting are the foundations of a successful insect management program.
“There’s nothing like having real-time information about what’s going on in your field,” Abney says.
Check multiple locations in and around the field before making a management decision. “Ten different locations within the field is a good number,” Abney says.
⇒ Use the information from scouting to make management decisions.
Insects and mites can cause severe economic loss, but not every field will be infested with damaging populations every year. Pest species also vary from year to year and from field to field within a year.
“It’s not very much good if you have a scouting report and you don’t use it,” Abney says. “If you don’t find anything in your field, but your neighbor is spraying his peanuts and you say, ‘Well, I didn’t find anything, but he’s spraying, so I’m going to spray, too’ that’s not making sense economically.
Choose pesticides based on expected efficacy, cost and risk of flaring secondary pests.
⇒ Ask questions.
Abney says when you do select an insecticide or miticide, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your chemical dealer.
“Don’t just take the jug as it’s handed to you across the counter and not ask questions,” he says. “First, is it going to work for the insect I have in my field?”
For example, Abney says, you might be recommended a product for worms. But there are a lot of species of worms. “Is it going to kill the specific ones you have? Ask that question,” he says.
Producers have also got to consider cost.
“If you’ve got a $16 an acre insecticide, it’s probably not worth spraying redneck peanut worm because they aren’t going to do $16 worth of damage.”
Another question to consider, Abney says, “If I apply this product now, what is the risk it will flare another insect, predominantly spider mites?
⇒ Get all the information you can.
The relationship between peanut yield and insect management is complicated, explains Abney. Insects are feeding on the stems and leaves, but that’s not what we are selling. For soil insect pests, such as burrower bug, the concern is more about quality and the risk of grading Seg. 3, than quantity and the few pounds the bugs will eat.
Many pests are also sporadic.
“That means a field down the road from you may have an infestation of caterpillars and there’s no caterpillars in your field or something completely different,” he says.
Because of the complicated nature of insect management, Abney suggests that producers arm themselves with as much information as they can.
“There are a lot of good Extension agents out there for you to use as a resource,” he says. Other sources include grower meetings, publications, the Internet and more. Understanding peanut insect risk factors and scouting are the foundation of successful insect management.