College-wide Navigational Links | Go to Local Content
Main Content |

Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus: TSWV of Peanut

TSWV of Peanut

Minimizing Spotted Wilt of Peanut including the 2007 Version of the Tomato Spotted Wilt Risk Index

Steve Brown, Jim Todd, Albert Culbreath, John Beasley, Bob Kemerait, Eric Prostko, Tim Brenneman, and Nathan Smith
The University of Georgia
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Dan Gorbet and Barry Tillman
The University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Ron Weeks and Austin Hagan
Auburn University

Wilson Faircloth, Diane Rowland, and Roy Pittman

When tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) infects a host plant, it can cause a disease that severely weakens or kills that plant. This particular virus is capable of infecting an unusually large number of plant species including several that are important crops in south Georgia. In recent years, peanut, tobacco, tomato and pepper crops have been seriously damaged by TSWV. The only known method of TSWV transmission is via certain species of thrips which have previously acquired the virus by feeding on infected plants. The factors leading to the rapid spread of this disease in south Georgia are very complicated and no single treatment or cultural practice has been found to be a consistently effective control measure. However, research continues to identify factors that influence the severity of TSWV in individual peanut fields.

Factors Affecting the Severity of TSWV on Peanut

Peanut Variety
No variety of peanut is immune to TSWV. However, a few varieties have consistently demonstrated moderate levels of resistance. In addition to resistance, (reduced disease incidence), some varieties appear to have some degree of tolerance (reduced severity in infected plants) as well. Higher levels of resistance and tolerance are anticipated since peanut breeding programs are now evaluating potential new varieties for response to TSWV.


Planting Date
Thrips populations and peanut susceptibility to infection are at their highest in the early spring. The timing of peanut emergence in relation to rapidly changing thrips populations can make a big difference in the incidence of TSWV for the remainder of the season. Optimum planting dates vary from year to year, but in general, early-planted and late-planted peanuts tend to have higher levels of TSWV than peanuts planted in the middle of the planting season. It is important for larger acreage peanut farmers to spread their harvest season. Some staggering of planting dates may be necessary, but to avoid spotted wilt pressure, it may be more effective to plant varieties with different time-to-maturity requirements as closely as possible within a low-risk time period. If peanuts must be planted during a high-risk period, try to minimize the risk associated with other index factors.


Plant Population
An association between skippy stands and higher levels of TSWV was noted soon after the disease began to impact peanut production in Georgia. More recently, research has confirmed the impact of plant population on TSWV incidence. Low and high plant populations may actually have the same number of infected plants, but the percentage of infected plants is greater in low plant populations. In other words, a higher plant population may not reduce the number of infected plants, but it will increase the number of healthy plants that can fill in and compensate for infected plants. In some cases, low plant populations may result in increased numbers of thrips per plant thereby increasing the probability of infection. When plant populations are as low as two plants per foot, severe losses to TSWV have been observed even when other factors would indicate a low level of risk. Getting a rapid, uniform stand with the desired plant population is a function of not only seeding rate but also seed quality, soil moisture, soil temperature and planting depth.


Insecticide Usage
In general, the use of insecticides to control thrips vectors has been an ineffective means of suppressing TSWV. In theory, lowering overall thrips populations with insecticides should effectively reduce in-field spread of TSWV. However, insecticides have proven to be ineffective at suppressing primary infection, which accounts for most virus transmission in peanut fields. Despite the overall disappointing results with insecticides, one particular chemical - phorate (Thimet 20G and Phorate 20G), has demonstrated consistent, low-level suppression of TSWV. The mechanism of phorate's TSWV suppression is not known, but the level of thrips control obtained with phorate is not greater than that obtained with other insecticides. Phorate may induce a defense response in the peanut plant that allows the plant to better resist infection or inhibits virus replication.


Row Pattern
Seven to ten-inch twin row spacing, utilizing the same seeding rate per acre as single row spacing, has become increasingly popular in Georgia. Research on irrigated peanuts has shown a strong tendency for significantly higher yields, a one to two point increase in grade and reductions in spotted wilt severity that have averaged 25-30%. The reason for this reduction in spotted wilt is not fully understood.


The tillage method that a grower utilizes can make a big difference in peanut yields. There are many different methods to choose from, each with its own merits and disadvantages for a given situation. Strip tillage has been shown to have some strong advantages (including reduced soil erosion and reduced time and labor required for planting), but in some situations, yields have been disappointing. Unbiased tillage research is difficult to accomplish, but studies have consistently shown that peanuts grown in strip till systems have less thrips damage and slightly less spotted wilt. On-farm observations have confirmed these results, but more studies are needed in order to characterize the magnitude of the reduction. We do not suggest that growers should change their tillage method just to reduce spotted wilt, but we have included tillage in the risk index in an attempt to better identify total risks.


Classic® Herbicide
Research and field observations over the past several years have confirmed that the use of Classic® (chlorimuron) can result in an increased expression of spotted wilt of peanut. However, the effects of Classic® on spotted wilt can not be consistently linked to a specific application timing. Consequently, the impacts of Classic® use on the TSWV risk index are less predictable in comparison to other management factors. Additionally, the increases in spotted wilt associated with Classic® applications have not always resulted in significant peanut yield losses.

If Florida beggarweed escapes early-season control strategies, the use of Classic® remains the only alternative for the late-season management of this weed. To date, other peanut herbicides have not been shown to have an influence on spotted wilt.


Measuring TSWV Risk

Many factors combine to influence the risk of losses to TSWV in a peanut crop. Some factors are more important than others, but no single factor can be used as a reliable TSWV control measure. However, research data and on-farm observations indicate that when combinations of several factors are considered, an individual field's risk of losses due to TSWV can be estimated. There is no way to predict with total accuracy how much TSWV will occur in a given situation or how the disease will affect yield, but by identifying high risk situations, growers can avoid those production practices that are conducive to major yield losses. The University of Georgia Tomato Spotted Wilt Risk Index for Peanuts was developed as a tool for evaluation of risk associated with individual peanut production situations. When high risk situations are identified, growers should consider making modifications to their production plan (i.e. variety, planting date, seeding rate, etc.) to reduce their level of risk. Using preventative measures to reduce risk of TSWV losses is the only way to control the disease. After the crop is planted, there are no known control measures.

The index combines what is known about individual risk factors into a comprehensive, but simple, estimate of TSWV risk for a given field. It assigns a relative importance to each factor so that an overall level of risk can be estimated. The first version of the index was developed in 1996 and was based on available research data. Small plot studies and on-farm observations have been used to evaluate index performance each year since release of the first version. In research plots where multiple TSWV management practices were used, as little as 5% of the total row feet were severely affected by TSWV compared to over 60% in high-risk situations. Yield differences were over 2000 lbs. per acre in some cases. Results of these and other validation studies have been used to make modifications in all subsequent versions of the index. Future changes are expected as we learn more about TSWV.

Keep in mind that the risk levels assigned by this index are relative. In other words, if this index predicts a low level of risk, we would expect that field to be less likely to suffer major losses due to TSWV than a field that is rated with a higher level of risk. A low index value does not imply that a field is immune from TSWV losses. Losses due to TSWV vary from year to year. In a year where incidence is high statewide, even fields with a low risk level may experience significant losses.


The University of Georgia
Tomato Spotted Wilt Index for Peanuts

For each of the following factors that can influence the incidence of tomato spotted wilt, identify which option best describes the situation for an individual peanut field. An option must be selected for each risk factor. Add the index numbers associated with each choice to obtain an overall risk index value. Compare that number to the risk scale provided and identify the projected level of risk.

For this on-line version, simply "click" on the circle beside the numerical value in the "Risk Index Points" column by the item that applies to your situation for cultivar, planting date, population, insecticide, row-pattern and tillage. After all items have been selected, click on "SUBMIT" below the final category. Your risk index value and classification of low, moderate or high risk will be automatically calculated.



Variety Risk Index Points
  • SunOleic 97R*
  • Flavorunner 458*
  • NC-V 11
  • Georgia Green
  • Virugard
  • Gregory
  • Andru II*
  • AT 3081R
  • Florida Fancy* ***
  • McCloud*
  • C-99R
  • Carver
  • AT 3085A*
  • Georgia-05E*
  • Georgia-03L
  • Georgia-02C*
  • Georgia-06G***
  • Georgia-01R
  • York*
  • Florida-07*
  • AP-3
  • Tifguard
  • Other**

* Cultivars marked with an asterisk (*) also have High Oleic Acid oil composistion.

** Adequate research data is not available for all varieties. Additional varieties will be included as data to support the assignment of an index value are available.

*** Rankings based primarily on data from one year.



Category Planting Date Risk Index Points
Planting Date Prior to May 1 30
  May 1 - May 10 15
  May 11 - May 31 05
  June 1 - June 10 10
  After June 10 15

*In those years when the normal date of planting for the first peanuts in your area is delayed due to inclement weather, these date ranges should be moved later by an equal amount. In most years, these date ranges will also vary slightly with latitude. Dates can be shifted five days earlier in the extreme southern counties and 5 days later in the extreme northern counties.


(final stand not seeding rate)

Category Plant Population Risk Index Points
Plant Population* Less than 3 plants per foot 25
  3 to 4 plants per foot 15
  More than 4 plants per foot 05
*Only plant during conditions conducive to rapid, uniform emergence. Less than optimum conditions at planting can result in poor stands or delayed, staggered emergence, both of which can contribute to increased spotted wilt. Note: a twin row is considered to be one row for purposes of determining number of plants per foot of row.


Category At Plant Insecticide Risk Index Points
Insecticide None 15
  Other than Thimet® 20G or Phorate® 20G 15
  Thimet® 20G,
Phorate® 20G

*An insecticide's influence on the incidence of TSWV is only one factor among many to consider when making an insecticide selection. In a given field, nematode problems may overshadow those with TSWV and decisions should be made accordingly.



Category Row Configuration Risk Index Points
Row Pattern Single (32-38 inches) 15
  Twin (7-10 inches) 5



Category Tillage Risk Index Points
Tillage Conventional 15
  Strip Tillage into crop residue or winter cover 5



Category Classic® Herbicide Risk Index Points
Herbicide Program Classic® applied 5
  No Classic® applied 0

Press Submit to calculate Risk Index