Georgia peanut farmers experienced one of the region’s worst insect infestations in 2010, but a $200,000 research grant awarded to Fort Valley State University will help to protect crops and farming revenues into the future.
The university announced the US Department of Agriculture funding this week, which will support research and testing on a variety of insecticides to stunt burrower bug impact on crops. FVSU Biology Chair George Mbata will serve as the principal investigator on the project, which he says impacts revenues and element of peanut allergies. From the official release:
The entomologist said crop damage by the bug can cause major financial losses for peanut growers in the southern U.S. Harvested peanuts infested by burrower bugs are downgraded to a lower classification called “Segment 2” when there is 2.5 percent, or higher internal damage. Segment 2 peanuts can only be used for oil stock (peanut oil) instead of salted snacks for consumers.
“Infestation by the bug can cause the downgrade of peanuts from Segment 1 to Segment 2, causing a 65 percent loss in value,” Mbata said. “Segment 1 peanuts sell for $330 per metric ton. Seg. 2 peanuts only have a market value of only $130 per ton.”
The researcher noted the infestation of peanut by this pest is related to higher aflatoxin content of peanuts. Aflatoxin is a known carcinogen in human beings.