Applying fungicides earlier in the season is boosting disease control for one Georgia farming duo.
Brothers J.D. and Ben Newton of Millen, Georgia, produce cotton and peanuts and operate crop consulting and crop insurance businesses.
“We’re pushing our peanut fungicide program earlier in the season to get that fungicide to the ground where the white mold infestation is located before our vines lap up and prevent adequate spray coverage,” J.D. said.
Years ago, peanut growers commonly began applying fungicides 30 days after planting. With improved disease resistance now available in the highest-yielding varieties, that fungicide initiation date has moved further from planting. Today, growers often wait 60 days after planting to begin a fungicide program.
“Many of the current peanut varieties have much-improved plant tolerance to leaf spot and tomato spotted wilt virus,” J.D. said.
The Newton brothers begin their fungicide program, which includes DuPont™ Fontelis® fungicide, at 40 to 45 days after planting. That’s about two weeks earlier than most conventional fungicide programs in the Southeast peanut-growing region.
The result, the Newtons said, is improved white mold control on both their dryland and irrigated peanut acreage.
“Starting that white mold program earlier with Fontelis is improving our white mold control and our yield,” J.D. said. “Fontelis is in our fungicide program because it controls both white mold and leaf spot.”
Another tool in the brothers’ crop protection toolbox is Strongarm® herbicide for morningglory, tropical spiderwort and bristly starbur control. The herbicide also provides suppression of sicklepod (coffeeweed), a perennial problem.
“Strongarm is the only thing that kills bristly starbur. It also gives us some suppression of coffeeweed. Otherwise, we’d be eaten up with them,” he said.
They initially used Strongarm because it provides flexibility for a cotton rotation.
“With the competing herbicide product, if you don’t receive adequate rainfall or irrigation, you aren’t going to outgrow the early season damage a peanut application causes in cotton,” J.D. said. “The competitor requires an 18-month rotation period from the time of application. If you are spraying late-season pests, that knocks out a cotton rotation.”
The Newtons’ peanuts are treated with a herbicide at planting. At postemergence, about 45 days after planting, they receive an over-the-top spray to prolong residual activity.
“We get at least two to three weeks’ residual activity out of Strongarm, and it has a 10-month rotation for cotton,” J.D. said. “You don’t get that rotation flexibility with the competing product.
“It’s worth it to me to use Strongarm in peanuts and avoid that early season cotton damage.
“Our goal is to manage each acre by its yield potential. To that end, we use a lot of variable-rate technology to allow us to fertilize different soil types differently. We are also adding a yield monitor to our cotton picker in 2019. We hope to use the yield monitor to create yield management zones that produce more effective results than the grid soil sampling we are currently using.”
For more information, visit Corteva Agriscience.