Peanut farmers now have a biological pesticide for protecting their crops from fungi that produce aflatoxin. A biological pesticide developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists recently received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Section 3 registration.

Circle One Global, Inc. (COGI), of Cuthbert, Ga., the sole licensee of the ARS treatment, will immediately begin producing the biopesticide, called Afla-Guard, for use in 2004. The ideal time to inoculate peanut fields is late June or early July.

ARS scientists at the agency's National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., made the biological treatment from spores of a nontoxigenic strain of Aspergillus flavus that is applied to barley kernels. The kernels are then applied to the soil beneath the plant canopy, where the fungus colonizes the barley and establishes itself to compete against toxigenic strains of A. flavus that are naturally present. Other strains of A. flavus, as well as A. parasiticus, are the primary producers of aflatoxin.