Tropical Storm Gordon’s Impact on Cotton and Peanuts in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties

Tropical Storm Gordon’s Impact on Cotton and Peanuts in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties

Cotton laid down in the field by Tropical Storm Gordon.

For most row crop growers in Florida, Tropical Storm Gordon had minimal impact.  However, in the westernmost part of the state, much of the cotton suffered significant damage.  Though the winds were not extremely strong, the combination of saturated soils and winds wreaked havoc on what had looked like a stellar cotton crop.

The western Panhandle had been blessed with ample rains throughout the summer.  Prior to T.S. Gordon making landfall on September 3, many farmers were excited about the prospective yields for their 2018 cotton crop.  In northern Escambia County, farmers reported rainfall ranging from 7-11 inches.  Though the area did not receive a long period of high winds,  the combination of waterlogged soils and wind caused a great deal of lodging in cotton that was nearing full maturity almost ready to be defoliated.  Canopies heavy with loaded bolls and wet leaves laid down on damp soil and have not since righted their position.  The bolls touching wet ground have rotted off the plant.  The plants are matted throughout the field.   Many farmers have shared their concerns with the difficulty of defoliating a field that has cotton laying across the row middles.

Though the winds from T.S. Gordon died down within 24 hours, the rains continued.  It has continued to rain regularly since September 3rd.  Not only is the cotton worse for wear, but peanut harvest has been steadily delayed by the rains.  Greg Phillips, manager of Birdsong Peanuts-McCullough, said “Peanut harvest in the area has been greatly slowed by the rain.”  He estimates that around 7% of the entire crop has been harvested, whereas if the weather conditions had been favorable, 15% of the year’s crop would been harvested by this time.  He does report good grades so far, but he is concerned that further delays might cause a decline in both yield and grades.

The  Agroclimate image below shows the total rainfall in inches from August 13th to September 25th.  It is evident that the western Panhandle and Lower Alabama have received ample amounts of rain, but the story that it doesn’t tell is that all of this rainfall is coming at a time of year when conditions are generally starting to dry out for harvesting.

The image below from Agroclimate provides a good comparison of rainfall totals from the past 45 days to September 25.  The map of the southeast on the left shows the historical average rainfall for this time of year  The more colorful map of the southeast on the right shows the deviation from “normal” rainfall amounts.  In the case of late summer 2018, T.S. Gordon brought in much higher than average rainfall in the areas shaded in blue and purple.

It will take some time to know the full extent of the impact from T.S. Gordon.  Crop damage appears significant, but the full effects will not be known until after the completion of the 2018 crop harvest.

Identifying Harmless “False White Mold” in Peanut Fields

Identifying Harmless “False White Mold” in Peanut Fields

Photo taken by Andrew Sawyer, UGA Wilcox County Extension of false white mold.

This article is from an educational update email from Dr. Bob Kemerait, UGA Plant Pathologist.  Dr. Kemerait gave permission for Panhandle Ag to use this to share with the growers of Florida.

Andrew Sawyer, UGA Wilcox County Extension, sent me these great pictures yesterday afternoon.  They are images of what we call “false white mold” which is caused by the fungus Phanerochaete.  This is NOT the white mold, aka stem rot, that causes so much damage to our peanut crop and growers SHOULD NOT spray anything for it.  False white mold does NOT harm the plant; in fact the real damage false white mold can cause is that growers spend money unnecessarily fighting it.

Picture of false white mold, taken by Andrew Sawyer, UGA Wilcox County Extension.

False white mold is most often found in fields planted using conservation tillage, where the white fungal growth covers both the limbs of the peanut crop and the associated crop debris.  Early in its growth and development, the Phanerochaete fungus appears nearly identical to the white mold/stem rot pathogen and all-around bad guy Sclerotium rolfsii.  However, as False white mold ages it begins to turn a yellow-orange color and takes on a toothed or hairy appearance.  False white mold NEVER produces BB-sized sclerotia like Sclerotium rolfsii does.

A final difference, no lesions form beneath the fungal growth of Phanerochaete; they often form beneath the fungal growth of Sclerotium rolfsii.

 

2014 UF Peanut Variety Test Results

2014 UF Peanut Variety Test Results

Dr. Barry Tillman, NFREC Peanut Breeder, shared the  results of his work with the newer peanut variates.  Photo credit Doug Mayo

Dr. Barry Tillman, UF/IFAS Peanut Breeder, showed growers the newer peanut varieties at the 2014 Peanut Field Day. Photo credit Doug Mayo

Peanut planting season is months away, but it’s not too early to begin choosing varieties to plant. The 2014 variety performance data is hot off the press and can provide a tool to compare and contrast peanut varieties. Table 1 presents the University of Florida peanut variety performance from 2011 through 2014 for pod yield and grade (TSMK = Total Sound Mature Kernels). Yields and grades among the varieties can be compared within a column for one, two, three and four years. The three and four year averages are the best indication of long-term performance.

This chart has several new varieties including TUFRunnerTM ‘297’ and TUFRunnerTM ‘511’, two new high oleic, large seeded runners from the University of Florida and Georgia-12Y (normal oleic) and Georgia-13M (high oleic) from the University of Georgia. In general, there are many very good peanut varieties to choose from based on yield and grade. There are other important factors to consider, especially in an era of low prices where small benefits can add up over the farm.

Seed size varies greatly among these varieties with FloRunTM ‘107’, Georgia-09B, and Georgia Greener and Georgia-13M having the smallest seed (more seed per pound).   Compared to planting varieties with larger seed such as Georgia-06G or Florida-07, planting costs can be reduced by planting one of the smaller-seeded varieties. Disease resistance is also an important factor in comparing varieties. Those with good resistance to leaf spots and white mold such as TUFRunnerTM ‘727’, Tifguard, and Georgia-12Y can produce well even when sprayed with the less expensive, protective fungicides such as chlorothalnil (Bravo and other generics) and tebuconazole (Folicur and other generics). Other varieties with more susceptibility to leaf spot and/or white mold will likely benefit from fungicides with better disease control attributes which are also more expensive. Note also that there are seven high oleic varieties, the first time that the majority of the varieties in the UF test were high oleic. Over the past two years, some contract premiums have been offered for high oleic production.Tillman- 2014 FL Peanut Vaiety Test Results

For more information on growing peanuts, please see the following UF/IFAS Publications:

Peanut Production

 

Peanuts Hit Hard by Nematodes this Year

Peanuts Hit Hard by Nematodes this Year

A field in Jackson County with root-knot nematode damage all the way across. Photo: Josh Thompson

A field in Jackson County with root-knot nematode damage all the way across. Photo: Josh Thompson

A hot and dry summer for many Panhandle farmers has given no relief from pests this year. Peanut root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne arenaria) are no an exception. Damage from nematodes has been severe in many areas of Jackson County where the fields are very sandy.

Root-knot nematode damage is more apparent in hot and dry years, and in fields where their numbers are highest. Growing peanuts 2 or more years in a row greatly increases the populations of root-knot nematodes. However, nematodes can still be severe even with good crop rotation, as is the case this year in Jackson County.

Sometimes, affects from nematodes go unnoticed, since they can look similar to and occur at the same time as some diseases like white mold and rhizoctonia. See the pictures of nematode infection that follow.

When peanuts are on at least a 3 year rotation, the only other effective control is to fumigate with Telone II or to plant Tifguard, a root-knot nematode resistant variety.  For more information: Peanut Nematode Management.

Combination of white mold and root-knot nematode damage. Photo: Josh Thompson

Combination of white mold and root-knot nematode damage. Photo: Josh Thompson

Galling from root-knot nematode on pods and pegs. Photo: Josh Thompson

Galling from root-knot nematode on pods and pegs. Photo: Josh Thompson

White mold sclerotia at the base of a peanut plant. Photo: Josh Thompson

White mold sclerotia at the base of a peanut plant. Photo: Josh Thompson

Beet Armyworms in Peanut Fields

Beet Armyworms in Peanut Fields

Cow birds feeding on beet armyworms. Photo: Josh Thompson

Cow birds feeding on beet armyworms. Photo: Josh Thompson

It’s that time of year when all kinds of insect pests are moving, especially caterpillars. Armyworms have been present but sporadic in hay fields, cotton and peanuts the past couple weeks across the Panhandle. Rome Ethridge, the Ag Agent in Seminole Co. Georgia, has reported seeing all kinds of different caterpillars this week. See his post on Seminole Crop E-News. Many times, cow birds are a dead give away of their presence, as shown in the picture above.

Seeing only a few caterpillars does not usually warrant an insecticide treatment for armyworms. This is because peanuts can withstand quite a bit of defoliation without it affecting yield. The treatment threshold for armyworms in peanuts is 3-4 caterpillars per foot of row before vines have lapped. After lapping, the threshold moves to 5 – 6 caterpillars per foot of row. For insecticide options, see Peanut Insect Control.

Beet armyworm in peanut. Photo: Josh Thompson

Beet armyworm in peanut. Photo: Josh Thompson

The good news is armyworms feed on palmer pigweed too; not enough to kill it though. Photo: Josh Thompson

The good news is armyworms feed on palmer pigweed too; not enough to kill it though. Photo: Josh Thompson