The 2017 growing season is slowly coming to an end with Georgia growers producing another high-yielding crop with remarkable quality. Like every year, growers faced many obstacles to produce this crop. The planting season had its issues with fluctuating weather conditions (moisture and temperature) causing slower than normal emergence and growth. This slowed growth allowed for elevated problems with Valor injury and aspergillus crown rot resulting in some stand loss.
Growers also faced elevated disease and nematode issues resulting from the warm winter and spring. Conditions were also ideal for disease pressure during the growing season. Although these issues did impact the crop, growers did a great job managing them, thus limiting the effects on yield and quality.
What’s in store for 2018? Will Georgia growers plant another 700,000+ acres? Time will tell. Start planning for next year now. Ask yourself a few questions: What sort of problems did I have in 2017? What worked and what did not in 2017? How much did I spend to produce the 2017 crop? Am I going to be faced with shortened rotations to plant the peanut acres needed to make a profit in 2018? What kind of budget can I afford in 2018 (likely to depend on contract prices)? What are the essentials needed to produce a crop in 2018?
Consider the answers to these questions as you begin to map out next years’ crop. Another key ingredient in planning for next years’ crop – get informed. Attend your local peanut production meeting hosted January through March by your county Extension agents and the UGA peanut team.
Slipping On Leaf Spot
While the results of a very good year for peanuts are behind us for most farmers, we are already turning our attention to 2018. How will high yields and a lot of acres affect contract prices in 2018? Will the price for peanuts be more or less competitive with other crops, and how will this impact crop selection and pressure on well-established, positive rotations for peanuts? These are good questions that will find answers in the spring.
With the 2017 crop fresh on our minds, what were some of the challenges we experienced and how can we make adjustments and improvements to a crop that was quite good? This is an important question to answer because Mother Nature cooperated with folks in the V-C region quite well – both during the growing season and during harvest.
One issue that comes to mind is leaf spot control. For a number of years we have had good rotations in the V-C region, good field resistance (but not complete) with our varieties and a group of fungicides that are very effective in controlling leaf spot. With CBR and tomato spotted wilt at low levels, although Sclerotinia blight has been an issue for some, our ability to manage leaf spot with fungicides, rotations and variety resistance have given us excellent plant protection and great flexibility at harvest. In some areas of the region this slipped in 2017, and we found ourselves making decisions on when to dig peanuts early, before optimum maturity, due to leaf spot.
This decision was being made by some of the very best peanut farmers. When combined with a large number of acres and strains on digging, harvesting, drying and hauling capacities, the consequences of rapid defoliation created considerable anxiety.
Now is the time to write down some of the things that happened in 2017 with respect to this disease so “cause and effect” can be sorted through and adjustments made in 2018. Just as farmers will be considering the things that worked well in 2017 and some that did not, research and Extension folks, consultants and agribusiness companies will be putting the pieces together to determine why some breakdowns in leaf spot control occurred in 2017 and how to address this issue for the 2018 crop.
Widespread rainfall and cloudy, overcast conditions experienced in late September and early October slightly delayed peanut harvest across the Southwestern region. However, harvest operations quickly resumed after a few days of open weather. As a result, much progress was made regarding harvest.
Overall, pod yields were at or slightly above long-term averages. Peanut quality was excellent with good grades being achieved across the board. Furthermore, there was no evidence of aflatoxin in the 2017 crop. Damage from excessive rain at the end of September had little effect on the overall quality. However, the conditions experienced throughout the latter part of the growing season were ideal for foliar diseases such as early and late leaf spots, web blotch and pepper spot.
The occurrence and severity of these diseases reminded many producers of the importance of preventative fungicide applications, especially when growing Spanish and Valencia cultivars, which are inherently more susceptible to foliar diseases.
Evidence of pod rot was apparent in many fields, but damage was minimal where fungicide applications were made compared to fields that were left untreated. While weather contributed greatly to disease development during the 2017 growing season, producers should be mindful of the potential for similar outbreaks to occur and budget for fungicides accordingly.