While insects might be the easier of peanut pest management issues — compared to disease and weed control — producers can make it harder on themselves by infrequent or improper scouting.

“One of the problems that has arisen over the past 10 to 20 years is that we don’t scout peanuts like we did in the 1970s or early 1980s. Some people remember when we used to train scouts on a regular basis every year — men, women, kids — to go out and routinely monitor pests in peanuts just like we do in cotton,” says David Adams, University of Georgia Extension entomologist.

This has changed over time, he adds, and the ultimate goal is to place pest management entirely in the hands of the grower.

“The biggest problem with that is now we have consultants who do it — and they do a fine job — some growers do it on their own, and some growers try and do it on their own even though they don’t have the time.

“They don’t look at their peanuts on a regular enough basis, and many times they miss problems that are developing in the field because they’re not observing closely enough,” says Adams.

The problem, he says, is that one of the easiest things to drop in peanut production during years of potentially low returns is scouting or pest management.

“It happened over a period of several years, and we sort of fell asleep on things,” he says.

Insects are highly variable in how their populations attack peanuts, says Adams. “One year we may have tobacco budworms, another year cutworms, and another we’ll have lesser cornstalk borers. Last year, we had spider mite problems.