TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Peanut farmers across the state are being warned to check the health of their peanut crops.
A severe peanut disease called aspergillus crown rot is on the rise in Georgia, the country's largest producer of peanuts.
"What we see here are the remnants of what aspergillus crown rot could do," said UGA Tifton Peanut Disease Specialist Bob Kemerait.
Kemerait said once infected by the disease, part of the plant will die off, causing fewer peanut plants to grow.
"So aspergillus crown rot was a significant issue for a number of growers this year," explained Kemerait.
Kemerait said aspergillus crown rot is deadly for peanut seedlings.
Across the state, Kemerait said about two to three percent of farms have been impacted and that Tift and Colquitt counties were hit hard.
"That can be tracked back to seed sources, but also the environment we've had here in this specific area, very hot and dry last season," explained Kemerait. "This year we've had environmental conditions as well."
Kemerait said having a good quality seed is essential in avoiding the disease.
"There's no substitute for taking the measures early and aplenty. Once that furrows closed, you have very little options to protect against aspergillis crown rot unless you have to replant," elaborated Kemerait
Some farmers replant once, twice or even three times. And replacing the seeds cost money, labor and time.
"Fortunately most growers are not affected to a severe degree, but for those who are affected, it can be very, very difficult to overcome," said Kemerait.
Kemerait said he and researchers at UGA Tifton are working to figure out how to minimize the impact of aspergillis crown rot.
"Growers may be busy getting this year's crop out of the field, but it's not too early to start thinking about how to minimize losses to important diseases for the 2018 season," said Kemerait
Some other suggestions for farmers to avoid this disease are buying good quality seed, ensure seed is treated with a good fungicide program, and if saving seed, make sure it is stored correctly throughout the winter.
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