Managing diseases is a major component of a peanut production program, says Tillman, and “I always tell growers there is one thing more than anything else you can do to reduce disease pressure: crop rotation.”

“Peanuts benefit tremendously from rotation with non-legumes such as cotton, corn, sorghum, and we encourage growers to make rotation a key part of their production program.”

New varieties developed by breeders in recent years offer producers a greater choice of the peanuts to grow, he says.

Disease resistance is a significant consideration in variety choice. “In the humid South, there are several diseases that can have an impact on peanut production.”

And while breeders are working to develop varieties that offer broader resistance, he says, “You will be using fungicides to control diseases for the foreseeable future.”

White mold is probably “one of the most important peanut diseases,” Tillman says, but it is one for which there are varieties with “quite good resistance that can help you in your disease management program.” There are also varieties that offer some resistance for leaf spot and spotted wilt.

“We really don’t have examples of immunity for these diseases,” Tillman says, “but there is near immunity in TifGuard to root knot nematodes, which could be an issue in some of the sandier soils in Mississippi.”

 Most of the disease resistance in varieties is relative, he says. “We rank them as to how they perform under the same conditions, using a numerical scale like the Peanut RX program, which gives a value for each variety and how it performs for each disease.

“In general, all our newer varieties have pretty good resistance to spotted wilt, and we wouldn’t expect major losses from that disease. We don’t, however, have much resistance to leaf spot; Tifguard is about the best. A new one, TUFRunner 727, probably as good as Tifguard.”

An area where there is considerable potential to chose varieties for resistance is for white mold, Tillman says. “Tifguard, Georgia 07W, and Florida 07 rank high; their yield loss to white mold is much less when disease is present. If this disease is an issue for you, consider these three varieties.”


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