University of Georgia plant pathologist Tim Brenneman studies peanut diseases and a range of pests that attack peanuts. During the 2023 Georgia Peanut Tour visit to the University of Georgia Attapulgus Research and Education Center, Brenneman discussed nematodes and the impact this pest has on peanuts.
“Nematodes are a very serious problem with peanuts,” Brenneman says. “They are round worms that live in the soil and feed on the roots and the pods of peanuts.”
Today, researchers are phenotyping new varieties that have a great level of resistance to nematodes. According to Brenneman, that’s a huge advancement because some of the most expensive chemicals put on peanuts are geared to manage nematodes.
“Management of nematodes is a huge cost of production, so these new varieties with extremely high levels of resistance are beneficial to farmers since they require no chemical inputs,” Brenneman says.
Brenneman is working with the peanut breeders to phenotype. Through phenotyping, Brenneman and the breeders work to characterize the new lines and show how resistant they really are in the field as well as making sure they have the high yield potential that growers need for new commercial peanut varieties.
“It’s very exciting to see the big differences out here in the field among current peanut varieties and some of the new nematode resistant varieties. Some of the new varieties will be available within the next couple of years that should help our industry and growers produce high yields at a lower cost,” Brenneman says. “That’s what we need to stay competitive in the world peanut market.”