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Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy county producers met at Fanning Springs.

Melon and Peanut Forecast 2018

Fungicide shortage, research trials, planting dates and cross resistance were weighty topics at 2018 Crop Production Short Course, Suwannee Valley Livestock Pavilion. Especially relevant were management suggestions to avoid watermelon and peanut row crop problems in 2018. Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy county producers met with specialists and researchers during the program.

Working for Peanuts  

In discussing the 2017 “peanut decline” issue, Anthony Drew, Levy County Commercial Agriculture Agent, presented what is known, what is not known, and what is still to be determined. Peanuts across the lower Southeastern production belt were affected by a problem of unknown causes. Yields were severely and negatively affected. In addition, the forecast for 2018 includes a projected chlorothalonil shortage. It is one of two most commonly used BROAD spectrum fungicide. It is absolutely critical to any fungicide program to manage disease resistance.


“Chlorothalonil has long been and still thought of as the keystone for fungicide programs on peanut and watermelon.”  D. Anthony Drew

Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy producers will have about 30% of the supply of last year. Nationwide, chlorothalonil supply is limited by two-thirds. And, price has gone up significantly. In the last few years, a majority of chlorothalonil manufacturing capacity, as well as many other pesticides, have migrated to China. Due to issues in China, the manufacturing capacity of pesticide factories is severely reduced causing a US and worldwide shortage.

A Perfect Storm

Dr. Albert Culbreath, Plant Pathologist, University of Georgia shared research on older chemistries. Specifically their utilization in effective disease management programs. “Basically, we are looking at a lot of fungicide combinations” to manage the fungicide shortage issue. “Cross-resistance is going to be a factor in all these fungicides.”

“2018 will be the perfect storm of loss of efficacy due to resistance development, to some modes of action, in fungicides and the projected shortage of chlorothalonil.” A. Culbreath

Newly developed fungicide field tested in Levy County (2017) may not be available in 2018. Resistant peanut varieties will be key in a total program in situations that are high risk for disease. Likewise, research continues to develop and evaluate new breeding lines focused on white mold, early and late leaf spot and nematode resistance in peanut.

Watermelon Crop Production
Ariel view of treated and non treated fungicide plots.

Fungicide treated plots present as densely foliated green.

On the watermelon front, Dr. Josh Freeman, University of Florida, presented facts concerning the use of fumigants for Fusarium wilt management. Fumigants on deeper narrow beds under Totally Impermeable Film (TIF) were contrasted with the same fumigants on traditional wide shallow beds and standard plastic.

Freeman elaborated on commercial plastics and their ability to contain fungicide.

Charting effectiveness of fusarium fungicide on grades of commercial plastic.

Research indicates narrow, high beds with TIF plastic mulch are much more effective than other methods in retaining fumigant. Given the risk of this devastating disease (fusarium) and considerable expense of fumigants, the methods of application, including bed structure are critical.  Dr. Freeman (UF) seeks to partner with local producers to demonstrate these techniques. Farm demonstrations provide opportunity to observe, learn and add to the knowledge base as research continues on the subject.

Drip irrigation, beneath plastic film places fertilizer and water at the root zone.

Watermelon seedlings are placed by hand, through TIF plastic.

Given the critical nationwide shortage of chlorothalonil, one program goal was to fill-in gaps in melon fungicide programs. Plant melon seedlings as early as possible, to avoid late season disease pressure. This strategy has risk. Historically a significant likelihood of frost exists through the third week of March. Therefore, earlier plantings are subject to cold damage.

Producer Resources

Andrew Paramore, Florida Department Of Agriculture And Consumer Services (FDACS) shared resources to “help protect the consumer, as well as the farmers and the employees…the [pesticide] applicators to make applications in a safe manner that both protects the environment as well as the people in the surrounding community.”

Weaver (left) facilitates the last producer meeting of his career.

Marvin Weaver, Gilchrist County Extension Director (left) visits with Buford Langford during lunch.

Marvin Weaver, UF/IFAS Extension Gilchrist County Director discussed the new 2019 Worker’s Protection Standards and the Florida Organo- Auxin Rule (CORE CEU). Farmers receive annual training in integrated pest management, earning core and row crop CEU’s.

Jeffrey Spencer, Farm Credit of North Florida provided lunch. After lunch, dozens completed the Private Restricted Use Pesticide license training/testing.  Contact your extension office on the new 2018 Private Restricted Use Pesticide license and testing requirements.

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