“Digging is the most critical practice in peanut production,” Gore says. “You can lose more yield here than with any other practice — losses can be tremendous.”

Alan Henn, Extension professor of entomology and plant pathology at Mississippi State University, says, “A lot of new peanut growers in Mississippi have been scared because they’ve heard about growers in Alabama and Georgia having to spray for diseases on 7 to 10-day intervals.

“A key reason is that they’ve practiced poor rotations, with a resultant buildup of white mold and early- and late-season leafspots that overwinter in debris.

“Because we haven’t had peanuts here, we haven’t had these problems. As long as we can keep good rotation programs going — at least three years — we will continue to have an economic edge with these diseases.”

Among peanut diseases that can cause problems in getting a stand, Henn says, are Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus niger, pythium, and rhizoctonia. All can cause stand losses.

“White mold can be a serious problem,” he notes. “We have peanut trials at four locations in the state, using many different materials for control of this disease. Tentative results indicate that white mold can be suppressed later in the year by making early season fungicide applications, about15 to 45 days after emergence.

“The ratings these data are based on will change, since the amount of plant loss seen above-ground is not comparable to what is below ground. Below ground losses are usually worse. Typically, white mold applications are made around 60 days.

“One reason we recommend long rotations is to reduce the sclerotia in the soil that cause white mold.”

It’s important, Henn says, “that you treat leaves in the canopy with real respect in late season, because yields depend on those leaves. If white mold is active and a rainstorm comes with temperatures over 85 F, spray the peanuts.

“In very wet weather conditions, some of the leafspots we are seeing now can move to stems and cause stem dieback. These are not the same leafspots which so plague Georgia and Alabama.  Those are early leafspot which will be primarily on the upper leaf surface and often will have a yellow halo, and  late leafspot, which will almost always be on the lower leaf surface — when you turn the leaf over, there will usually be a lot of fuzzy black stuff on the spot.

“Early leafspot is more difficult to identify. But it is not likely to be a problem for most Mississippi producers unless they have poor rotations  or get a tropical storm that pulls in inoculum from elsewhere.”

Varieties now being grown are more resistant to these (early and late) leafspots than those used several years ago, Henn says. “Still, these diseases are nothing to fool around with.

“Late season, if a rainstorm comes and you find early or late leafspot, and  digging is still about two weeks or more ahead, you need to be out there spraying to control the disease.

“Be aware that the active life for the active ingredient of most fungicides is only about 14 days, and for complete suppression it’s more like 7 days, so don’t hesitate to make additional applications if necessary.”

Some growers this year have had little rainfall, Henn says. “Even so, I’m impressed with how much yield potential there can be with so little rain. Peanuts are a very drought-tolerant crop.

“If you have irrigation, be aware that you can over-irrigate. We don’t have a lot of information on furrow irrigation of peanuts, and there may be different management requirements between sprinkler/center pivot applications and furrow irrigation.

“Last year, we saw quite a bit of aerial blight due to rhizoctonia. I would have expected to see more this year in furrow-irrigated fields but did not — there wasn’t enough to warrant applications.”