- Mark Abney, UGA
June is typically a pretty quiet month in terms of insect pressure in Georgia peanut, but growers need to
be watching for potential problems that could cost them yield at the end of the season. Lesser cornstalk
borer LCB) is almost always found in SW Georgia peanut fields in late May, and this year is no exception.
Whether or not LCB populations reach damaging levels and require treatment will depend mostly on
temperature and precipitation over the next several weeks. Hot, dry conditions will favor LCB
development, while cool and/or wet conditions will hinder populations. What should we be watching
most closely? If we see a hot, dry start to June, keep an eye on sandy fields…especially ones with skippy
stands. These will be at the highest risk for infestation.
- Under heavy pressure, no field is immune to LCB infestation. Irrigated fields are much less likely to reach
threshold once the vines lap the row middles, but we cannot irrigate enough to make LCB go away
before the vines lap. Our research last year clearly showed the benefit of an insecticide application in
June when thresholds are reached. There are two critical parts of the previous statement: 1. Benefit of
insecticide and 2. When thresholds are reached. Spraying preventatively for LCB is not a good idea.
Effective treatments are not cheap, and not every field will need to be sprayed even in an “outbreak”
year. Likewise, not treating when the threshold is reached is a bad idea. A UGA on-farm trial in 2022
showed a significant yield loss when the LCB threshold was reached in early June, and the pest was not
treated. The bottom line for LCB is simple: scout and treat when the threshold is reached.
- It has been a while since early season tobacco budworm (TBW) infestations have occurred over a large
area in Georgia, but we should be keeping an eye on our peanuts for this pest in June. A couple weeks of
“not paying attention” when peanuts are 30-60 days old can result in a field of stems if TBW is present.
Peanut has an extraordinary ability to compensate for early season defoliation, but I don’t like to see
them get stripped just as they are starting to peg.
- The name of the game for effective insect management in peanut is “scout”. If all goes well, June will be
nice and quiet, and we can all rest up and get ready for the circus that is probably coming to town in July