UGA Exension plant pathologist cautions peanut farmers about tomato spotted wilt virus


This picture shows tomato spotted wilt virus damage in peanuts in 2011. Image credit: Tim Brenneman/UGA.

A University of Georgia Extension plant pathologist is urging Georgia peanut farmers to plant a month earlier next year to keep the threat of tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) at bay. In 1997, TSWV caused widespread damage to Georgia’s peanut crops. Peanut yields suffered, and the value of the state’s crop was reduced by more than 10 percent. The virus’ impact continues to be felt in 2014, according to UGA researcher Bob Kemerait, who’s based on the UGA Tifton Campus.

He worries that growers have become “complacent” in the fight against the disease.

“The fact that we’re seeing an increase in spotted wilt does not suggest to me in any way we’re going to go back to that period of time (in the late 1990s). What it does do is point out two factors: the first thing is that the disease, which has been quiet for a number of years, has not gone away. It’s still there. Second, and more importantly, as growers plant more resistant varieties, they’ve become complacent in the production practices important to minimizing the risk, and they could get bit by this in the future,” Kemerait said.

TSWV dates back almost 40 years, when it was discovered in peanuts in Texas. It was later found in Louisiana and Alabama. In the 1990s, the virus was detected as a major problem in Georgia-grown peanuts, vegetables and tobacco.

Through resistant cultivars developed at UGA by peanut breeder Bill Branch, the virus’ impact on peanuts was minimal over the next decade. For the last couple of years, though, TSWV appears to have been more severe in peanut fields, and Kemerait is unsure why.

“In the past couple of years, we’ve seen an increase, certainly not to the level it was in 1995 or 1997, but I’m seeing more and getting more reports from growers of tomato spotted wilt virus. We’re not exactly sure why,” Kemerait said. “It’s something we’re aware of. It’s something we’re cautious about.”

Managing TSWV is not as simple as controlling thrips, the tiny insects that transmit the disease. “Managing the thrips through the use of insecticides is not going to reduce severity of tomato spotted wilt,” Kemerait said.

To reduce the virus’ impact, UGA Extension recommends peanut farmers plant in May next year rather than in mid-April, as earlier planted peanuts are more likely to be infested by thrips. Also, planting peanuts at greater plant densities reduces the incidence of the virus, so increased seeding rates are encouraged.

“As an Extension specialist with the University of Georgia, my message and the message of the county agents is: Don’t forget that spotted wilt is out there. Don’t forget that it can affect your crop, and make sure you continue to take steps to reduce the risk,” Kemerait said.

For more information about TSWV in peanuts, see

By Clint Thompson
University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

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Federal agency seeks public comments on Conservation Stewardship Program interim rule

USDA LogoATHENS, GA, November 12, 2014 ­– USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Georgia is seeking public comments on changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) interim final rule. USDA recently announced the publishing of the interim final rule, which contains the statutory changes to CSP in the Federal Register, on Nov. 5. The rule will be open for public comments through Jan. 5, 2015. Interested individuals can submit public comments on the interim final rule on Public comments will be used to finalize the interim final rule before it is published.

The interim final rule is used to implement CSP. This program helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance—the higher the performance, the higher the payment.

Congress changed CSP in the 2014 Farm Bill and NRCS, the agency that administers CSP, incorporated those changes into this interim rule. These changes are designed to improve the competitive nature of the program, including raising the bar for the quality of projects enrolled and increasing the number of priority resource concerns to be addressed during the term of the CSP contract.

The interim final rule also expands the CSP’s reach to include veteran farmers and ranchers under special funding pools for beginning and socially disadvantaged producers, updates requirements for contract renewal, uses science-based stewardship thresholds to determine program eligibility and success, and expands program enrollmentto include lands protected under the new Agricultural Conservation Easements Program and that are in the last year of the Conservation Reserve Program.

The rule also establishes CSP as one of the programs to help the Regional Conservation Partnership Program accomplish its purposes.

NRCS has also increased flexibility for producers to make minor adjustments to their agricultural operations that will result in the same or better stewardship of the land, and removed extraneous provisions that did not relate to program participant’s rights and responsibilities.

For more information about CSP or other programs in Georgia, visit and click on the programs tab.

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October/November 2014 Southeastern Peanut Farmer

octnov_2014cvrwebThe October/November issue of the Southeastern Peanut Farmer is now available for digital reading.

This issue features the:
2014 Planted peanut acreage shows increase
2013 Georgia Peanut Achievement Club Winners
Estate Planning
Crop rotation still needed
Birdsong Peanuts celebrates 100 years
Meet Monfort, new UGA extension agronomist
National Center for Peanut Competitiveness releases “Preliminary Base Acreage and Payment Yields Decision Calculator”
Check off reports from the state grower organizations
Legislative Update
Southern Peanut Growers Update

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Grimes named 2014 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year

2014_philipgrimessewinnerPhilip Grimes, a farmer from Tifton, Georgia, who is known for his conservation practices and high crop yields, has been selected as the overall winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award for 2014.

Grimes was named as the overall winner during the Willie B. Withers Luncheon held during the opening day of the 2014 Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show. Grimes was chosen Farmer of the Year over nine other state winners who were finalists for the award.

Ron Carroll, marketing vice president with Swisher, represented the company in presenting the cash award to Grimes. “Philip’s farming success is a direct result of his hard work,” Carroll says. “The farming profession is blessed to have so many dedicated producers, and there is no doubt that a great farmer has been selected as the overall winner during this 25th year of our Farmer of the Year awards.”

Grimes expressed his appreciation to Swisher and the other award sponsors. “I have a great team of supporters who help me operate my farm,” he says. “I also want to congratulate the other state winners. They are excellent farmers and leaders who are fine representatives of our industry.”

His wife Jane manages the farm’s office and leads some of the farm’s initiatives in marketing produce and in maintaining food safety.

Grimes has farmed for 37 years. He grows peanuts, cotton, cantaloupes, broccoli, snap beans and corn on his 2,210-acre farm. As a result of his high peanut yields, he has been a longtime member of the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club. He also raises high-yield cotton, and his produce crops are consistently high in quality. He plants a portion of his land specifically to attract wildlife.

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New peanut revenue policy introduced for farmers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced a new peanut revenue policy that will be available for eligible peanut producers. The new policy approved by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) Board of Directors, on Thursday, Sept. 19, offers a new revenue based insurance coverage, previously not available for peanut growers. The USDA’s Risk Management Agency will now be able to make the program available to producers for the 2015 crop and will allow producers to ensure not only against yield loss but also against reductions in revenue.

The Georgia Peanut Commission and the Western Peanut Growers developed the policy under section 508(h) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act, which allows private entities to design and submit crop insurance products to the FCIC Board.

“I have represented the Georgia Peanut Commission on the crop insurance working group for a number of years and I’m pleased to see final approval of revenue insurance options for growers,” says Andy Bell, Georgia Peanut Commission advisory board member and farmer from Climax, Georgia. “The revenue based insurance provides growers with another tool to aid in the production risk of growing peanuts. Also included is an increase in the replant provision and improved quality adjustment provisions which will allow growers the ability to complete a claim at harvest.”

To assist growers with understanding the changes for 2015, information will be included on the Georgia Peanut Commission’s website at

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Georgia Peanut Achievement Club Winners

2013_gpacwinners_webDuring the Southern Peanut Growers Conference held this past summer in Panama City Beach, Florida, Philip Grimes, Tift County, was recognized for producing the highest 2013 peanut yield in Georgia as verified by Georgia Extension agricultural agents. Because of his high yields, Grimes has been a member of the Peanut Achievement Club for more than 20 years.

Grimes credits his high yields to the superior genetics bred into productive varieties such as Georgia-06G. “We wouldn’t be where we are without these high yielding varieties,” Grimes says. “I’m really looking forward to trying a new high yielding variety, Georgia-13M.”

Grimes and nine other farmers were recognized as members of the University of Georgia Peanut Achievement Club for 2013. Grimes was the high yield producer with 7,084.6 pounds per acre from 592 acres grown in 2013. Grimes said his 2013 peanuts were the first he grew that yielded more than 7,000 pounds per acre.

Surprisingly, his yield was not the highest in the history of the club. The Dowdy and Gaines Farm in Baker County produced 7,267 pounds per acre from 304.1 acres during the 2011 crop year. Individual Georgia farmers also produced more than 7,000 pounds per year in 2010 and in 1985, according to records reviewed by John Beasley, former University of Georgia Extension peanut agronomist who is now an administrator at Auburn University.

The Georgia Peanut Achievement Club winners for their 2013 yields include:
State Winner – Philip Grimes, Tift County, 7,084 pounds per acre
Eddie Miller Jr., Seminole County, 6,949 pounds per acre
Kenneth Brent Brown, Ben Hill County, 6,752 pounds per acre
Hulin Reeves Jr., Ben Hill County, 6,610 pounds per acre
Jimmy Webb, Calhoun County, 6,533 pounds per acre
Al Sudderth, Calhoun County, 6,508 pounds per acre
Jerry Jr. & Jeff Heard Farms, Baker County, 6,010 pounds per acre
Art Dorminy, Irwin County, 6,007 pounds per acre
Wayne Sayer, Irwin County, 5,206 pounds per acre
Ken Hall, Worth County, 5,166 pounds per acre

The Peanut Achievement Club awards are sponsored this year by Syngenta, BASF and Bayer. Bayer is a new sponsor of the achievement club.

Eric Prostko, University of Georgia Extension weed scientist, recognized this year’s top winners. He also paid tribute to University of Georgia research agronomist Scott Tubbs, research assistant John Paulk and administrative associate Dena Watson for their parts in contributing to the Peanut Achievement Club. “Our Extension peanut team is committed to helping our peanut farmers and county Extension agents,” Prostko says.

Local Extension agents also play a vital role for the Peanut Achievement Club in gathering crop input information and in validating the yields of the state’s top yielding peanut farmers.

The Peanut Achievement Club traces its roots to 1950 when it was called the Ton Per Acre Club. The highest yield that year was 2,700 pounds per acre. By 1962, more than a thousand Georgia peanut growers gained admission to the Ton Per Acre Club. The award was later changed to the Money Maker Club. Now it is called the Georgia Peanut Achievement Club.

View the 2013 Georgia Peanut Achievement Club Winners Management Practices
View photos from the awards ceremony

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Peanut varieties and cropping systems discussed at Southwest Georgia Research & Education Center Field Day

The Southwest Georgia Research and Education Center in Plains, Georgia, held its annual Corn, Cotton, Peanuts and Soybean Field Day on Aug. 20, 2014. Administrators and researchers from the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences were on hand to update farmers on the research being conducted at the Plains research station.

2014_08_20_plainsfieldday_01sBill Branch, University of Georgia peanut breeder, kicked off the field day with a presentation on high-yielding peanut varieties. Twelve varieties were presented with descriptions of character traits, yield potential, release date, etc. Branch also discussed the introduction of Georgia-13M, a new high-yielding, high-oleic, TSWV-resistant, small-seeded, runner-type variety released by the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations in 2013. According to the Georgia Seed Development Authority, during three-years averaged over multiple location tests in Georgia, Georgia-13M had significantly less total disease incidence and greater dollar value return per acre compared to four other high-oleic, runner-type varieties. At this time, Georgia-13M is a protected peanut variety that can only be sold as a class of certified seed and only by individuals licensed by the University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGARF) under guidelines established in conjunction with the Georgia Seed Development Authority.

John Gassett with UGA’s Griffin campus discussed peanut variety trials. Gassett said the college manages 15,000 plots per year with various commodities. These plots are located at various research stations across the state. Each research station is unique in that the soil type varies at each. Gassett showed some of the variety trials currently being done at the Southwest Georgia Research and Education Center. Gassett also mentioned the peanut, tobacco and cotton publications. Through these publications, research data dating back to 1997 is available. This data can be found at

Scott Tubbs, UGA cropping systems agronomist, presented his research on peanut cropping systems at the Plains research station. His current research on this topic is a second phase from research conducted last year on replanting decisions and plant populations. This year, he is looking at non-uniformed gaps in the field and how it affects yields with low and high populations. Tubbs said a high population would be around three plants per foot and a high population would be around 15 plants per foot. He has already begun planning for phase three of this project. Phase three will take this data and compare uniform and non-uniform gaps in the field.

To conclude presentations on peanuts, Scott Monfort, UGA’s newly-hired peanut agronomist, gave a crop update. Monfort believes irrigated peanuts will turn out well, while dryland peanuts do not look promising. He has had a few calls related to plants producing no peanuts. Monfort’s response to this is to have insurance adjusters come out to farms now and take a look at the crop. He is also encouraging farmers not to mix dryland and irrigated peanuts at harvest. Overall, he believes it will be an interesting year with the potential of a split crop.

By Jessie Turk, Georgia Peanut Commission

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Peanut Field Days give farmers an edge

Florida Field Day pic 2Farmers saw their checkoff dollars in action Friday, August 22nd while attending the annual Crops Field Day at the Wiregrass Research Extension Center in Headland, Alabama. About 50 farmers toured fields of peanuts, cotton and sesame and met with scientists conducting research for those crops. Last week, the annual Panhandle Crops Meeting was held at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna, Florida.

“We hold this tour every year about this time, just before the fall harvest,” says Kris Balkcom, research associate for the Wiregrass Research Extension Center. “Farmers can see the crops as they get close to maturity and ask questions to the scientists who are actually conducting the research. It’s a great way for farmers to see what their checkoff dollars are being used for.”

Peanut and cotton farmers contribute money at harvest to checkoff funds used for research, education and promotion. The scientists at the center test new plant varieties; planting methods; harvest techniques; seeding rates and irrigation – all while recording the data with the hopes of improving production and efficiency.

Nick Snellgrove, a peanut and cotton farmer from Ashford, Alabama, said he’d been to four of the annual tours, and each year he learns something different. “I can learn more and see what’s changed,” he says. “This year I learned about sesame and about possibly rotating it as a crop with peanuts.”

Tours like these help farmers realize how important their checkoff dollars really are,” says Alabama Peanut Producers Association President Carl Sanders. “Actually seeing the crops in the fields is always better than hearing or reading about it. As the world population continues to grow, it’s important that farmers look for ways to improve our efficiency while continuing to produce an affordable and abundant food supply. Tours like the one today help us realize there are still a lot of opportunities for us to do that.”

By Teresa Mays, Alabama Peanut Producers Association

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Overuse can lead to resistance

2014_midvillefd_01sBob Kemerait opened a copy of the New York Times, Aug. 11, 2014, edition, reading the headline, “Invader Batters Rural America, Shrugging Off Herbicides,” as he talked to growers at the recent field day held at the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center in Midville, Georgia. The article covers the glyphosate-resistant palmer amaranth and how farmers have overused glyphosate. The result, weeds with glyphosate-resisting genetic mutations.

Kemerait explains how glyphosate-resistant palmers first surfaced in the fall of 2004, in a field in Macon County, Georgia. The cotton farmer was concerned about the amount of pigweed that had survived in his field, though all other weeds seemed to be well-controlled with his herbicide program.  The grower contacted his then Extension agent, Jeremy Kichler, who worked with specialists at the University of Georgia to confirm that a glyphosate resistance issue was now a reality. Ten years later glyphosate-resistant Palmer Amaranth are present in at least 24 states.

Kemerait says the lesson learned from overusing glyphosate for weed control can be applied to peanut fungicides as well. Fungicides are critically important for controlling diseases in peanuts and farmers need to know and understand the fungicide’s chemistry, in addition to the brand name. In 2014, one commonly used fungicide to control soilborne diseases and foliar diseases, Abound, has become off patent. The active ingredient, azoxystrobin, is available to other companies now to develop generic formulations of the product. The best thing for growers with new generic formulations, Kemerait says, is the reduced price. However, Kemerait is concerned that the reduced price will lead to overuse and then to resistance problems, especially with leaf spot in peanuts.

At the Southeast Research and Education Center, Kemerait is working with county Extension agents, Mark Crosby of Emanuel County and Wade Parker of Jenkins County to review and compare the emerging arsenal of new fungicide and nematicide programs with older management programs. This work is critical given the recent generic status of azoxystrobin and new access to products such as Priaxor, Elatus and Velum Total.  Research data will be available following harvest comparing the fungicide chemistries and their performance on controlling diseases in peanuts.

View photos from the 2014 University of Georgia Southeast Research & Education Center in Midville, Georgia

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UGA Extension’s new peanut agronomist provides crop update

2014_midvillefd_29sUniversity of Georgia Extension’s new peanut agronomist says Georgia’s crop shows potential despite a prolonged drought.

“The crop has looked good, up until the last three weeks. We’re dealing with very dry conditions, and we really, really need a rain,” said Scott Monfort, who arrived on the UGA Tifton Campus on Aug. 1.

Monfort says this year’s peanut crop is also experiencing insect issues as well, including lesser cornstalk borer and spider mites, which are related to the dry conditions. Despite the weeks of little to no precipitation, chances of a productive peanut season are still good, providing it rains during the last half of the growing season.

“Right now the crop looks good and has the potential of yielding very well, maybe just a little bit under that from last year,” Monfort said. “If the rains will come, we can look at a very, very good year.”

He estimates 590,000 acres of peanuts are planted this year with about half being irrigated.

Monfort’s role as Extension peanut agronomist is to work closely with UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ research agronomist Scott Tubbs to help implement new technology into peanut production statewide. He will also assist Georgia peanut farmers and keep them apprised of the latest developments regarding one of Georgia’s top row crops.

“I think this is one of the most important positions, just for the fact this position really works and coordinates with all the other peanut specialists. I will hopefully make the program run more efficiently and try to promote everything that’s being done in peanuts,” Monfort said. “I think it is a very out-front position that is here to promote everything that we do in the university.”

For more information about Georgia’s peanut crop, go to

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