by Brad Haire, Southeast Farm Press
Peanut farmers who personally don’t know the peanut burrower bug are fortunate. Growers who’ve battled the yield- and quality-reducing pest know something needs to be done to control it, and those growers can help find answers.
A Georgia-based research project will hit the high-gears in 2017 to develop an index growers can use to gauge their risk for the pest and implement better ways to defend against it.
When Mark Abney arrived in Georgia in 2013 as the new peanut entomologist, there was plenty of interest (and pressure) to find ways to stop the ground-dwelling, peanut-pod-feeding bug, which for several years prior suddenly started causing major problems in parts of the state’s peanut-growing region, especially troublesome to dryland peanuts.
“There wasn’t a whole lot known about it then. There was some work done in South Carolina in the ‘90s and a little bit of work in Texas in the ‘70s,” Abney said. “We’ve learned some things in the past few years, but the reality is there still isn’t a whole lot known about it from a standpoint of its biology or why it became a pest for peanut.”
The peanut burrower bug is not an invasive species, which it is mistakenly believed to be. It is a native species to Georgia and confirmed to be as far north as Connecticut. So, it must have a wide range of host plants it can survive on — not just peanuts, he said.