Researchers are looking at runner peanuts as a way to add back acreage that Virginia has recently lost. “We're interested in runners,” says Joel Faircloth, Virginia Tech Extension cotton/peanut specialist says, “but not as a replacement for Virginias. We're not sure if the economics will pencil out, but we're looking at it.” Faircloth made the comments on a field tour of Isle of Wight County, Va., recently. In addition to research on cotton and peanuts, representatives from Delta and Pine Land Co., Bayer/Fiber Max and Stoneville discussed cotton varieties. Glenn Rountree, Virginia Tech Extension agent for Isle of Wight County, coordinated the tour.

Researchers have Georgia Green, AP-3, Georgia 02C and DP-1, among other runner varieties in tests.

“We might be able to reduce production costs and increase the bottom line by planting runners,” says Pat Phipps, Virginia Tech Extension plant pathologist. “Virginia types have more disease than runner types.”

Virginia varieties such as Gregory, Wilson, NC 12C, VA 98R have susceptibility to the virus. Perry, which was hit hard by TSWV in 2002, performed in the middle of the pack of 24 varieties.

In the test, early-planted peanuts showed more incidence of TSWV, bearing out research. Early infections of TSWV impact on yield, Phipps says. “We have to look at it to see how important planting date is. Varieties are behaving the same across planting dates.

Also on the research front, Ames Herbert, Virginia Tech Extension entomologist, is having success with the use of insecticides to control thrips that spread TSWV. “Regardless of the insecticide, either Temik or Thimet, we're getting good thrips control and minimizing the virus in Virginia,” Herbert says. “This is something new.”

Herbert says he will have more to talk about on thrips control at winter meetings.

On average, the peanut crop is about two weeks ahead of schedule. That is thanks to a hot May.

Phipps says Virginia takes heat unit readings on an hourly basis. For May 1-August 29, the Tidewater Research and Education Center had 2,206 heat units. The five-year average is 2,205.

Most of the crop was within a month of harvest based on heat units at days at the end of August. Virginia Tech posts heat units on a hotline at 1-800-795-0700. Beginning Sept. 25, the hotline gives frost advisories.

Switching gears, Phipps talked about hard lock in cotton. He points out there is debate about the best way to manage the problem. Fusarium caused hard lock. The lock stays in its hard form.

“We saw hard lock in Virginia last year,” Phipps says. “The fungus is orange and once the cotton is defoliated, it becomes more evident. Many folks drive by a field and say, ‘Man, the guy did a poor job of picking cotton,’ but actually the problem is hard lock.”

In his hard lock trials, Phipps is looking at five fungicides “that represent the best choices.”

Faircloth says there are some opportunities to plant earlier by using seed treatments. Taking a cotton plant, he demonstrated to growers about making defoliation decision. “Count to the branch with the highest harvestable bolls,” Faircloth says. “The trigger point is somewhere between three or four bolls.” The vegetative bolls do not contribute that much to yield.

On the insect front, Herbert says growers in Virginia are under-managing the stink bug-plant bug problem.

“I don't think sampling insects is going to be the answer,” Herbert says. “When we're going out into the field and shaking the plants, the bugs are leaving the field.”