With recent predictions for Tropical Storm Karen to bring 2-3 days of rainfall to Georgia over the weekend and early next week, many growers have questions about what is best for their peanuts that are nearing maturity. Dr John Beasley, UGA Extension Peanut Agronomist, has giving us two scenarios to think about.
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.
Remember, Dr. Beasley noted that if you are going to dig before the rain that it would be better to dig just ahead of the rain as this will lesson any chance of aflatoxin as well as any other quality issues with your peanut crop. Rain on freshly dug peanuts and vines has little to no effect on the quality or yield.