The National Peanut Board is currently finalizing agreements for a wide range of production research projects to be conducted in nine states across the peanut belt during 2004.

At its Nov. 21 meeting, NPB allocated nearly $900,000 for 46 production research projects. NPB has invested about seven million dollars in 130 research projects on production issues like breeding and biotechnology, pest and disease resistance, and irrigation technology improvements since its founding in 2000.

Crucial to success

“This funding is crucial to the success of U.S. peanut producers, helping them stay competitive in the world market. We need to keep looking for new management and production methods that are cost-effective so producers can stay in business,” said John Baldwin, Extension specialist and associate professor at the University of Georgia's Crop and Soil Sciences Department.

NPB approved the research funding after reviewing proposals presented by state peanut producer groups. Peanut production research is conducted primarily at land-grant universities in the major peanut producing states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

In the Southeast, where growers produce more peanuts than any other region of the United States, Dallas Hartzog, Extension specialist and professor at Auburn University's Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station called NPB's research funding, “a good example of growers helping themselves,” adding “check-off dollars are going to directly benefit growers through the research projects NPB recently approved because most all areas of agronomic study received some funding for applied research.”

Issues addressed

In Texas, the second-largest peanut producing state, Mike Schubert, associate professor and Extension specialist at Texas A&M's Agricultural Research and Extension Center said, “NPB funds research that addresses real-world production questions and there aren't many sources of funding for this type of research. Without support from national and state peanut checkoffs for research and Extension scientists to develop beneficial management strategies, individual producers would probably have to assume unacceptable risks trying to devise things on their own.”

Many peanut acres in the Virginia-Carolina region have been ravaged by diseases like Sclerotinia blight and stem rot. Pat Phipps, professor and Extension specialist at Virginia Tech's Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center, said “NPB research funding is helping us develop Virginia-type cultivars with resistance to Sclerotinia blight. Disease resistance like this can perform equal to or better than expensive fungicide sprays for Sclerotinia blight and perhaps southern stem rot. Right now, Sclerotinia blight can reduce yields of Virginia-type peanuts by 50 to 75 percent unless growers apply expensive fungicide sprays that can cost from $80 to 120 dollars per acre to use.”