Everyone can agree there's a difference between any two peanut fields--five years behind peanuts is different from continuous peanuts. So why not treat them differently?
That's the premise behind Peanut Rx--a risk index that helps Southeastern growers make smarter disease management decisions. The program is based on years of studying the effects of reduced-fungicide spray programs on disease control and pod yields.
"We can treat fields differently, and growers can maximize profits with a prescription fungicide program," says Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia Extension plant pathologist.
Peanut Rx was developed by researchers and extension specialists at the University of Georgia, the University of Florida and Auburn University.
Speaking at the Georgia Peanut Farm Show in Tifton, Kemerait says he'd like to see more producers using Peanut Rx.
"I don't care what fungicide program you use," he says. "What I do care about is that you have the information you need to make the best decision for you based on cost of production and the efficacy of chemicals," he says.
Peanut Rx considers the three most important diseases of the crop--early and late leaf spot, tomato spotted wilt virus, and white mold.
"In certain areas, CBR can be more of a problem, but on the whole, white mold is our biggest disease problem statewide. These three diseases are the ones we want to manage better and more cost-effectively using Peanut Rx," says Kemerait.
"As we collect additional results from research, we hope one day to be able to include rhizoctonia limb rot, CBR and the peanut root not nematode in Peanut Rx.
"We're not here so much to eliminate leaf spot as we are to make more peanuts, and we're not here so much to eliminate white mold as we are to make more peanuts."
There are two components to Peanut Rx, with the first being educational, or the actual risk index itself. Kemerait says, "It's based on the original TSWV Index, and it's based upon research and our experience. It's designed to help every peanut farmer in the Southeastern United States, whether they use a prescription fungicide program or not. This tool allows you to assess your risk, and it takes only minutes to go through it.
"Whenever a new cultivar becomes available, and whenever we get new data, we tweak this scale to assess the impact of different factors on disease severity. We work with the various companies that cooperate with Peanut Rx and support it to provide them data on the efficacy of their prescription fungicide programs."
Factors considered by Peanut Rx include variety, crop rotation, planting date, final plant stand, tillage, irrigation, field history and insecticides.