Marianna- It's been a tough growing season for many panhandle peanut farmers. First, it was cold- then it was dry. Then it got hot and wet. Too wet. Experts said the difficult conditions created a perfect storm for fungus growth.
"We're expecting higher than usual disease severity this year" said Barry Tillman, an Associate Professor of Agronomy at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna.
Needless to say, farmers have been frustrated. Tillman said many would be seeking answers at Thursday's 35th annual IFAS Peanut Field Day.
"I don't know if it will really ease frustrations," Regional IPM Extension Agent, Josh Thompson said with a smile. "But, one of the good things about the event is, farmers from all over the area will be [at the field day] and they'll be able to talk with one another. I think it's one of the main draws for coming. They can see what other people are doing and what their problems are."
In addition to the opportunity to learn from one another, Thompson said growers would also get some tips from state researchers.
"People are going to be able to see what new [peanut] varieties are available through the University of Florida, as well as current weed and disease control recommendations."
Tillman told us there were two new varieties of peanuts in the early stages of seed production this year. "One is called 'Flow Run107,'" he said, "and the other is called 'TUF Runner 727'. What we're looking for [in new varieties] are things that would make growers more profitable. So, higher yield per acre as well as improved disease resistance and grades."
The free event starts at 8:00 AM Thursday at the IFAS extension office off Highway 71 in Marianna. It wraps up with a free catfish lunch at the Sunland Pavilion. Field Day was arranged with a back up plan for rain regardless of the weather, agents said the event would take place.