A two- or three-year rotation of peanuts with cotton or other crops can help growers manage disease and possibly lower the number of fungicide treatments needed, said an Oklahoma State University Extension specialist.

John Damicone, OSU Extension pathologist, outlined a good peanut disease management program during the recent Oklahoma Peanut Expo in Lone Wolf. He was among speakers who also addressed the high-powered peanut varieties currently available to Southwest farmers as well as better varieties on the horizon.

“Integrated management of peanut diseases is needed to manage root-knot nematodes, early leaf spot, late leaf spot and other diseases,” he said.

For leaf spot diseases, good rotation with runner varieties can reduce fungicide treatments to three applications, Damicone said, but five sprayings may be needed in a poor rotation program that could promote more disease infestations.

Fungicide treatments for leaf spot normally begin about July 4, with treatments normally effective 14 days. “You need to be ahead of it,” Damicone said, encouraging growers not to let leaf spot or other diseases get out of hand.

Soil-borne diseases, like Sclerotinia blight or limb rot, normally need treatments about Aug. 1, he said, pointing out that good fungicides are available for disease control. “Omega (from Syngenta) and Endura (from BASF) provide pretty good control for Sclerotinia blight,” Damicone said.

However, he said two new fungicides on the market, Fontelis from DuPont and Propulse from Bayer CropScience, “do not have consistent activity against Sclerotinia blight” when applied alone or alternated with each other.  

The ability of varieties to have resistance to Sclerotinia blight and southern blight diseases are key areas of OSU and USDA Agricultural Research Service peanut studies.

The research also works to develop and release high oleic peanut cultivars for the Southwest. Superior yield, disease resistance and agronomic performance characteristics are essential, said Kelly Chamberlain, USDA-ARS plant breeder in Stillwater.

Chamberlain, who worked on the popular Red River Runner variety, said growers should have access to “plenty of seed” for 2013. She added that new breeding lines bumped up yield possibilities in 2012 research.

With access to more high-yielding, disease-tolerant seed varieties, growers in Oklahoma and other southwestern areas can expect more high-tonnage crops if Mother Nature cooperates even a little.

Even with a horrendous dry spell in 2012, Oklahoma farmers saw production increase by more than 30 percent, surpassing 3,200 pounds per acre, said Mike Kubicek, executive director of the Oklahoma Peanut Commission. New high oleic varieties, which are in demand by food manufacturers, provide growers with seed that should improve production even more.