New peanut producers in the state are traveling out of state (mainly to Texas and Oklahoma) to buy used harvesting equipment for the upcoming season. Before bringing used equipment back to the farm, be careful! An aggressive disease of peanut and certain other crops called Sclerotinia blight could be hitching a ride to Arkansas. Sclerotinia blight of peanut, caused by the soilborne fungus Sclerotinia minor, is considered one of the most important diseases of peanut in Texas and Oklahoma. Yield losses of 10% are common from this disease. Currently, this species of Sclerotinia has not been reported in Arkansas. This fungus produces small (0.5 to 3-mm) black seed-like structures called sclerotia. Sclerotia allow the fungus to survive long durations (years) dormant in the soil plow layer and when conditions are favorable the fungus “germinates” and infects a peanut host plant. Sclerotia cannot be eradicated from an infested field, and they are the primary source for the disease to become established into a new region because they are easily transported in small amounts of soil or peanut debris on equipment. The best way to control this disease in Arkansas is simply never to allow it to get established. Producers who buy equipment out of state should wash equipment thoroughly to remove any soil or plant material prior to bringing it onto their farm. This simple precaution could avoid a major problem with this exciting “new” crop for Arkansas.
For questions regarding Sclerotinia blight of peanut, please contact Dr. Travis Faske, Extension Plant Pathologist at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Terry Kirkpatrick, Extension Plant Pathologist, at email@example.com.