Dr. Mark Abney, research and Extension peanut entomologist at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus gave an entomology update at the UGA Southeast Research and Education Center. At this location, Dr. Abney said they have a research trial looking at different materials for managing thrips. Thrips are an early season seedling pest, but they remain a concern throughout the growing season. They cause damage to the plant by feeding on it and by spreading Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus. The research he is conducting in Midville will allow him to make recommendations to growers for how to best manage thrips on their farm.
For the 2018 crop year, thrip pressure has varied across the state. Some areas have seen very little pressure, while others have had moderate to heavy pressure, as well as higher levels of TSWV. Overall, Dr. Abney thinks virus levels are lower than they were in 2017; however, it is still there and needs to be managed.
Another major insect affecting peanuts that Dr. Abney studies is the burrow bug. The burrow bug is a stink bug that lives in the ground. It feeds on the developing peanut pod inside the shell and causes grade loss for farmers when they sell their peanuts at a buying point. This grade loss equates to financial loss for the farmer. The insect is difficult to manage; however, Dr. Abney has a few ways to monitor and control them. He is working to understand the biology of the insect better, as well as looking at potential products to use to control it. Currently, there is only one insecticide available to control the burrower bug and it is slated for cancellation by the Environmental Protection Agency, so research is being done to find another alternative product. Another soil insect pest Dr. Abney studies is the southern corn root worm. It’s not a big problem for most growers in Georgia; however, it’s an insect that likes wet weather, so during raining growing seasons, it can be seen. It is also managed with the same product used on burrower bugs, so an alternative management product is needed for it as well.
Dr. Abney said insect management is really important for peanut growers even though it’s not typically something they think about when managing their production practices. He and his colleagues continue to work to find more tools for Georgia peanut farmers’ tool belts so they can better manage insect pressure on their farms and continue to grow quality Georgia peanuts.
To follow entomology updates, visit the UGA Peanut Entomology Blog.