“Now, you’ve got to go well over 6,000 pounds per acre to get excited enough to break out the camera and call the neighbors,” Brenneman says.

Will peanut farmers as a group be able to harness all the tools that are currently available and push on to the 5,000 pound per acre frontier in the next few years? One of the keys to answering that question is how well growers will be able to protect their peanut plants from diseases.

Brenneman, and other veteran peanut disease researchers, agree the tools are available to growers to manage peanut diseases well enough to significantly improve yields.

However, the occurrence and severity of the major diseases of peanuts has changed in the past few years and adapting the available tools to manage these diseases will be critical to pushing yields on up toward three tons per acre.

Some of the new Virginia-type peanut varieties have excellent disease resistance packages, and these will no doubt be critical in the battle against diseases.

New varieties like Bailey and Sugg from the North Carolina State University breeding program have excellent disease resistance.

However, Brenneman points out that most of the new runner type varieties and some of the new Virginia types are still highly susceptible to diseases, particularly to soil-borne diseases.

New varieties, new production practices, new fungicide technology and seemingly a new weather pattern may all be critical to how well growers are able to adapt to and most profitably apply disease management technology.

For example, in both Carolinas last year, there were more 90 degree days in March than in May and more rain fell in August than in April.

While few in the academic arena are ready to announce global warming is here to stay, all do agree weather patterns are changing and these different conditions will play a part in production of all crops, all over the world.

Peanuts are no different.

“Three years ago I spoke at the South Carolina statewide peanut meeting, and my main topic of discussion was CBR (Cylindrocladium black rot). This disease was a big problem in Georgia, and it was an even bigger problem in South Carolina and further north in the peanut producing belt,” Brenneman says.