South Georgia peanut crops destroyed by diseases

Peanut crops are susceptible to white mold and leaf spot after rainy seasons. (Source: WALB)
Peanut crops are susceptible to white mold and leaf spot after rainy seasons. (Source: WALB)
Published: Oct. 5, 2018 at 10:38 PM EDT
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TIFT COUNTY (WALB) - Farmers said this season, plant diseases are ruining peanut crops all over the state.

The damp conditions in South Georgia covered one farmer’s crop with those diseases.

The diseases are called white mold and leaf spot.

Peanut specialists said a farm in Tift County was uprooted a few days ago.

That’s when the farmer noticed he had lost a substantial amount of his crop.

White Mold has destroyed a peanut crop in Tift County. (Source: WALB)
White Mold has destroyed a peanut crop in Tift County. (Source: WALB)

“White mold and leaf spot are both caused by fungi, mold just like growing in a house when it’s too wet. But these molds cause disease and infect the plant,” said Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia extension peanut specialist

Kemerait said they are caused by a variety of things that make it hard for farmers to regain the damaged crop.

“It’s an interaction of the wet year, the amount of disease that was already present from previous years, the ability to get this fungicide washed in properly, and the selection of fungicide,” Kemerait explained.

Bob Kemerait. (Source: WALB)
Bob Kemerait. (Source: WALB)

“The problem here is White Mold. You can see these peanuts have been inverted, and you can see the obvious symptoms here, the vines are desiccated the black and you can even see remnants of the white mold right there,” said Tucker Price, Cook County ag extension agent. “These leaves are dry but you can see some of the leaf spot there. Just a black dot or black legion on its self. That’s leaf spot.”

In this field, they said the farmer will notice a reduced yield and quality of product, due to how fast the mold can start.

“Once the disease gets as bad as it is in this field this filed is decimated by white mold. Yields are probably cut by 30 or 40 percent of what the grower would’ve expected. There is no recovery once it gets this bad,” said Kemerait.

Tucker Price. (Source: WALB)
Tucker Price. (Source: WALB)

There are about 5,300 pounds of peanuts in this field, and the specialists said the farmer lost a significant amount.

“This is lost yield you’re seeing right here, he’ll never get these,” said Price.

Now, the specialists also said growers spend millions of dollars trying to fight these diseases.

The only hope of restoring that crop they said would be to aggressively manage it for two to three years by removing debris, finding a good crop rotation and fungicide, or just finding something else to plant, like cotton or corn.

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