46th Peanut Farm Show Educates Producers on Devastating Disease

Tifton, GA

For the past forty-six years, peanut growers here in Georgia have made their way to the Georgia Peanut Farm Show – a yearly event that gives producers the chance to fellowship with one another, see the latest and greatest equipment, and hear updates from experts on the industry.

“It’s just a great, information sharing show here for peanut growers and peanut representatives. Those who quit learning, quit growing, and certainly in today’s technological age and the environmental concerns that we have, there’s new information, there are changes if not every day, certainly every year and we need to update our farmers and keep them as up to date and informed as we can about issues and new products that are coming up, so that we can continue to be profitable in the industry we all love,” says Joe Boddiford, Chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Aside from getting to meet with vendors and see the newest equipment, producers also got to attend production seminars in which industry experts, like Bob Kemerait, an Extension Plant Pathologist with the University of Georgia, spoke about a devastating disease many growers dealt with this past season known as tomato spotted wilt virus.

“The disease caused by tomato spotted wilt virus leads to significant yield reduction,” says Kemerait. “It leads to stunting of the plant, wilting of the plant, and also leads to a much lower pod yield on it, and so if we don’t manage tomato spotted wilt virus it’s very likely that our yields could be off by thousands of pounds, and that’s why it’s so important. We’ve been seeing this virus, tomato spotted wilt virus in peanuts since the mid nineties. The problem in 2022, the 2022 season was it was more severe than it’s been in recent years. It was really, in some fields, was devastating, and we’re not exactly sure why that was but we believe the Winter we had, or didn’t have – it was a warm winter, the impact on the thrips populations, the vectors that transmit the virus may have been a factor, but also because it’s been a few years since our growers have had a really bad year with the disease, they may be becoming a little bit lax, not focusing as much on all the management strategies that they have.”

Kemerait says the importance of having the correct management strategy can’t be overstated, as growers only have one chance to keep the virus under control.

“When they close the furrow, when they move their tractors out of the field, there’s nothing really else they can do to protect the crop, and the UGA Peanut Team works with growers to facilitate the information and also help them understand they get once chance to fight this disease. You either put the right combination down at planting or you don’t. There’s no going back,” says Kemerait.

It’s because of that reason Kemerait says it’s vital producers utilize Peanut RX – a planting tool that will help them minimize the risk of the disease on their operations as they gear up for this upcoming season.

“If you are serious about fighting tomato spotted wilt virus in 2023, you must pay attention to Peanut RX,” says Kemerait. “Peanut RX is available to our growers through a website, peanutrx.org they can also go to our production guides, the University of Georgia extension and they can also get it from various companies as well; following the steps to minimize the risk of this very important disease.”

By: John Holcomb