Researchers seek to end peanut rot

By Casey Peacock: Freedom Newspapers

Researcher Saum Sanogo is working to develop more organic methods to treat pod rot in peanuts.

Beneficial microbes for seed treatment and botanical extracts, such as garlic and chili plant extracts, are being studied to determine if they could prove to be beneficial to the peanut community, according to Sanogo, a plant pathologist and assistant professor at New Mexico State University.

“I do a lot of work here working on pod rot, which is a major problem here,” Sanogo said Wednesday during NMSU’s annual peanut field day at various locations in Roosevelt and Curry counties. “We’re trying to find new ways for the growers to control the disease with non-chemicals,” Sanogo said.

Sanogo and fellow NMSU researcher Naveen Puppala, who specializes in peanut breeding and genetics, are collaborating on ways to improve the production of peanuts and combat diseases, Puppala said.

Besides disease, water is becoming a concern for peanut farmers, something that could greatly hinder the production of peanuts, Puppala said.

“I’m basically trying to breed for a disease resistant, drought-quality plant,” Puppala said.

Other experiments include determining which peanut varieties contain less allergens for those who are allergic to peanuts.

Puppala is also studying the effects of planting peanuts in a diamond shape. Going from the single row method to the diamond method has potential to allow for more light to penetrate the plants, Puppala said.

“It’s absolutely vital that we continue to get every possible advance in research,” said Dee Brown, a Roosevelt County peanut farmer for more than 50 years.

“The biggest thing I’ve benefited from is disease and weed control. Consequently from these two criteria, yields have increased,” Brown said of the importance of the research being conducted, which includes a plot on his land.

In New Mexico, peanut production is a $50 million cash crop and a major agricultural industry in counties such as Roosevelt, Curry, and Lea, according to the office of Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.