Everyone can agree there’s a difference between any two peanut fields – five years behind peanuts is different from continuous peanuts. So why not treat them differently?

That’s the premise behind Peanut Rx — a risk index that helps Southeastern growers make smarter disease management decisions. The program is based on years of studying the effects of reduced-fungicide spray programs on disease control and pod yields.

“We can treat fields differently, and growers can maximize profits with a prescription fungicide program,” says Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia Extension plant pathologist.

Peanut Rx was developed by researchers and Extension specialists at the University of Georgia, the University of Florida and Auburn University.

In 2013, Peanut Rx prescription fungicide programs will be supported by Syngenta Crop Protection, Nichino-America, Arysta LifeScience, BASF, Bayer CropScience, DuPont and Sipcam Agro.

Speaking at the recent Georgia Peanut Farm Show in Tifton, Kemerait says he’d like to see more producers using Peanut Rx.

“I don’t care what fungicide program you use, he says. “What I do care about is that you have the information you need to make the best decision for you based on cost of production and the efficacy of chemicals,” he says.

It’s difficult to control peanut diseases in the Southeast for two reasons, says Kemerait. “One, we’ve got a number of diseases — leafspot, white mold, limb rot, CBR, nematodes — every part of the plant and every part of the fruit or pod is affected. The second thing is if we’re trying to protect against leafspot, we’re making foliar applications, and protecting against soil-borne diseases can be very difficult.”

Peanut Rx considers the three most important diseases of the crop — early and late leapspot, tomato spotted wilt virus, and white mold.

“In certain areas, CBR can be more of a problem, but on the whole, white mold is our biggest disease problem statewide. These three diseases are the ones we want to manage better and more cost-effectively using Peanut Rx. 

“As we collect additional results from research, we hope one day to be able to include Rhizoctonia limb rot, CBR and the peanut root not nematode in Peanut Rx.”

Better management, says Kemerait, doesn’t mean you always get the best disease control. “In my opinion, the best management is when we make the most money as a farmer.