R. O. Olatinwo and
J. O. Paz, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Georgia, Griffin 30223; and
S. L. Brown, Department of Entomology,
R. C. Kemerait, Jr. and
A. K. Culbreath, Department of Plant Pathology, and
G. Hoogenboom, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Georgia, Tifton 31793
Peanut growers in the southeastern United States have suffered significant economic losses due to spotted wilt caused by Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV). The virus is transmitted by western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis, and tobacco thrips, F. fusca, and was first reported in the southeast in 1986. The severity of this disease is extremely variable in individual peanut fields, perhaps due to the sensitivity of the vector population to changing weather patterns. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of early spring weather on spotted wilt risk in peanut. On-farm surveys of spotted wilt severity were conducted in Georgia peanut fields in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, and 2005. The percent spotted wilt intensity (%) for cv. Georgia Green was recorded and categorized into three intensity levels: low, moderate, and high. Meteorological data were obtained from the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network for the period between March 1 and April 30. Statistical analysis was conducted to identify weather variables that had significant impact on spotted wilt intensity. The results indicated a high probability of spotted wilt if the number of rain days during March was greater than or equal to 10 days and planting was before 11 May or after 5 June. The total evapotranspiration in April (>127 mm) and the average daily minimum temperature in March (>6.8°C) similarly increased the risk of spotted wilt. Knowing in advance the level of spotted wilt risk expected in a peanut field could assist growers with evaluating management options and significantly improve the impact of their decisions against spotted wilt risk in peanut.