Many of you have heard the potential of tropical storm Karen bringing 2-3 days of rain over Georgia this weekend. The main question peanut producers are asking is, “Should peanut fields that have reached optimal maturity be dug or left in the ground.” There are two scenarios to consider:
First, if a field has minimal disease pressure (defoliation from leaf spots or white mold) and if the soil is dry enough that digging before the rain would result in significant digging losses (especially in heavier, finer textured soils), then it is OK to leave the peanuts in the field until the wet weather passes.
Second, if a field has a higher level of defoliation (approaching or exceeding 50%), higher levels of white mold, or a sandier textured soil with adequate moisture for digging with minimal digging losses, then those fields should be dug ahead of the upcoming rain event. However, wait as long as possible and dig just ahead of the rain. This would be in the next day or two.
Keep in mind that if a field has been dug for a few days and the moisture content in the pods has dropped into that 12-18% range and then re-hydrated by the rain event, there is a higher risk of Aspergillus flavus mold developing, which could develop into aflatoxin. If you have vines and pods dry enough to combine go ahead and do so ahead of the rain event. If you have fields that need to be dug ahead of the rain event, do so as close to the actual rain as possible. Rain on freshly dug vines and pods will not hurt the yield or quality potential.