We have had a major role in the development and release of improved varieties of peanuts. The variety released in 1990, Tamspan 90, has added an estimated $35 to 40 million to the income of Texas and Oklahoma peanut producers as a result of its resistance to sclerotinia blight and other soil borne diseases. Tamrun 96, released in 1996, has the potential to add even more, because it has a high resistance to tomato spotted wilt, a virus disease. Two new varieties are in the final stages of release – a runner variety with sclerotinia resistance and a runner variety with resistance to root knot nematodes.
Producers in South Texas (and in Georgia, also) are avoiding the worst of the effects of the tomato spotted wilt virus in peanuts with the use of the planting window. The increased yields are worth millions of dollars each year to our Texas producers. When peanut farmers plant their crop between late May and early June, the impact of the disease is reduced considerably. The planting window is based on the movement of thrips, the tiny insect that carries the virus. To determine the planting window, our people collected over 100,000 thrips and biochemically analyzed thousands more to determine which were carrying the virus. Thousands of samples of peanut plants were also collected and analyzed with the ELISA technique to determine the sites of infection of the virus. With this research data base, the relationship between the time of planting and the severity of the disease became apparent and the adoption of the planting window was very rapid. An included benefit is the significant reduction of the pesticides used in an attempt to control the thrips. This saves money to purchase and apply the pesticides, reduces chemicals in the environment, and preserves the beneficial insects and spiders.
In the forages area, the increased understanding of forage systems is the major accomplishment. The research results of the nutrient fate and transport in coastal bermudagrass have been used by scientists who model the consequences of manure application to forages for this watershed. Our research results indicate that nitrates are not a problem, but phosphorus levels in the soil will increase if manure is applied at the agronomic rates for nitrogen. Our data show that soluble phosphorus will be present in the rainfall runoff from these forage systems. We have been a national leader in developing an understanding of switchgrass as a future source of biomass for energy and chemicals. Our work in evaluation of the nutrition value of various forages, such as sorghum-sudan hay and corn silage, has been important to the local dairy industry.