Covid-19 Assistance for Farmers


Commodity Purchase

USDA will provide $ 3 billion for commodity purchase (including meat, dairy and produce to support producers and provide food to those in need. USDA will work with local food and regional distributors to deliver food to food banks, as well as community and faith-based organizations to provide food to those in need.) Food Box Program.

 Direct Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers 

USDA will provide $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers including:

  • $9.6 billion for the livestock industry
    • $5.1 billion for cattle
    • $2.9 billion for dairy
    • $1.6 billion for hogs
  • $3.9 billion for row crop producers
  • $2.1 billion for specialty crops producers
  • $500 million for others crops (horticulture, aquaculture, sheep, goats, etc.)

Producers will receive a single payment determined using two calculations:

  • Price losses that occurred January 1-April 15, 2020. Producers will be compensated for 85% of price loss during that period.
  • Second part of the payment will be expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters, and will cover 30% of expected losses.

The payment limit is $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity. Qualified commodities must have experienced a 5% price decrease between January and April.

Farmers who have received PPP or EIDL program funding are still eligible for Direct Assistance program funding.

Apply through your local USDA Service Center.  Many remain closed so call to schedule an appointment.

Program is open to all producers regardless of size.

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How to Deal with a Potential Gypsum Shortage This Year (Glen Harris)


(Above picture is from the Peanut Fertility Checklist – UGA Peanut Quick Reference Guide 2020)

Gypsum (or landplaster, i.e. calcium sulfate) may be in short supply this year. There is no need to panic but it doesn’t hurt to review your options for dealing with this potential problem.

Why the Shortage? Coal burning powerplants that produce a lot of the “smokestack” gypsum we use on peanuts in Georgia have either switched to natural gas as a cheaper fuel source… or it has something to do with COVID-19 . Either way, or both, there has been a disruption in supply.

Are there other gypsum sources? Yes, there is USG 500, the naturally mined product, that should be available, especially in East Georgia and there may be some old ‘wet bulk” or “phosphogyp” available from Florida and maybe even some recycled wallboard. Freight/trucking cost may be a factor
depending where you are located though.

Can I use lime instead of gypsum? Yes, but lime needs to be applied before planting since the calcium in lime is not as soluble as the calcium in gypsum. So timing is important. Also if you deep turn you need to deep turn before applying lime so you don’t bury it. So placement is important. The calcium need to be in the “pegging zone” (top 4 inches). And technically, lime should only be used when you either need a pH adjustment (below 6.0) or start around 6.0 so the lime will not raise the soil pH too high.

What about “liquid lime”? There is a product currently available called “Topflow” that has been field tested at a 10 gal per acre rate, surface applied at planting. This may not provide as much calcium to the pegging zone as 1000 pound per acre of gypsum and won’t raise the soil test calcium as much but can be considered an alternative if you cannot get gypsum. Even though it is a liquid, it is still lime so it needs to be applied before or at planting.

What if I get delayed getting gypsum? Or how late is too late to put out gypsum? Gypsum should be applied at “early bloom” or approximately 30-45 days after planting. Since “peak pod fill” is around 60-90 days after planting you can still see benefit from gypsum applications made any time before 60 days after planting. It can also depend on water or irrigation since you need water to dissolve the calcium and get it through the hull into the developing kernels.

Can I put calcium out through a center pivot? Actually yes. Recent research has been conducted showing 10 gallons per acre of calcium chloride (or 20 gallons of calcium thiosulfate) through the pivot during peak pod fill (around 75 days after planting) can have some benefit. Again, this is not as good as a timely gypsum application but can be viewed as an ‘emergency” or “insurance” application. The calcium in both of these products is basically 100 % soluble and therefore can be applied during peak pod fill.
Also, calcium chloride should be the more affordable option but check on price and availability.

Does every field of peanuts in Georgia need gypsum? Probably not, so if supply is short how do you decide which fields get gypsum? First, any peanut being saved for seed should automatically receive 1000 pound per acre of gypsum, regardless of soil test calcium levels. Calcium is extremely important for germination of peanut seeds. Technically other fields should be “pegging zone” tested, i.e. soil sample 4 inches deep taken soon after peanuts emerge. If the soil test calcium (Mehlich 1 Extractant) is
500 or higher and the calcium to potassium ratio is 3:1 or higher – then the soil test calcium will be considered adequate and no gypsum will be recommended. This is based on research field trials looking  at yield and grade. Research also shows that gypsum is even more important in dryland compared to under irrigation since water will be more limiting in dryland and less soil test calcium will be available.

How important is gypsum for peanut production? This probably should have been the first question answered. And the answer …. is very or extremely important! Since peanuts as a deep tap-rooted legume can fix nitrogen and scavenge residual soil phosphorous and potassium, calcium is the most critical element. Lack of calcium in the pegging zone to be absorbed through the hull can result in “pops” or no kernels which obviously reduces yield. Calcium deficiency on peanut can also lead to pod rot. And again, calcium is critical to germination for peanuts saved for seed for next year.

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Planting Concerns

Below are some recommendations from Scott Monfort (UGA Peanut Agronomist):

Soil temps around the state are in the high 60’s to high 70’s. The soil should be buffered from a few hours of cold temperatures during the night time as long as we are warming back in the high 70’s to mid-80’s during the day. The low 70’s daytime and 50’s night time temperatures for more than 1 to 2 days will drive the soil temps down. With this in mind, I would consider not planting until this cold front has passed.

However, I know some growers need to continue planting so please consider the following:

  1. If you are dryland and you are afraid of losing needed moisture then I would go ahead and plant.
  2. If you are irrigated, you could hold off until cold front moves out.
  3. If you have questionable seed quality, I would wait to plant until it warms up.
  4. Soil temperatures can be different across the state. (check your county weather stations)
    1. The eastern part of the state will be at more risk than the Southwest part of state.
    2. Freshly turned soil will be colder than normal – let field sit for a day or so to warm up
    3. For strip tillage fields with cover, soils are typically colder than conventional tillage fields so you may want to allow extra time for soils to warm up.
  5. What if I have a lot of acres and need to keep planting or I just want to keep planting?
    1. Make sure you are planting with good quality seed
    2. Add appropriate in furrow fungicide to help with seedling disease
    3. Do not plant more than 2.5 inches deep
    4. Try not to add irrigation during the coldest days where night time temperatures are in the 40’s and 50’s and the day time temperatures are below 70-75. If you need to go ahead and add irrigation do not apply more than is needed to activate herbicides.

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Snails in Peanut


After several inches of rain last week an interesting observation was made where peanuts were recently planted.  Snails were present in high numbers in this conventionally tilled field.  Normally, we would expect to find them in fields with more plant residue.  Recent tillage and rain likely made the snails more noticeable.  Dr. Abney says that the snails do not usually feed on live plants, just decomposing plant material, so they don’t pose a threat to the crop until harvest (if they make it into the combine).

There is little information available on snail control in peanuts, but some recommend tilling to disturb the soil and prevent populations from increasing.  However, this may not be an option for growers implementing conservation tillage practices.

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Be smart now or figure out how to kill Palmer amaranth without herbicides soon (Stanley Culpepper and Larry Steckel)

For essentially two decades, Georgia farmers have battled glyphosate-resistant
Palmer amaranth. Its impact on Georgia agriculture is so high it is simply immeasurable. As many lessons have been learned from our past, weed management decision making has vastly improved at all levels across Georgia. However there are great concerns with overuse of many herbicide chemistries especially dicamba and the PPO herbicides (examples such as Reflex, Cobra, Ultra Blazer, Valor, etc). With Georgia research, observations of pigweeds responding to dicamba applied by researchers has noted some plants dying while others show few symptoms (all plants of the same size and coverage). There is no question that this is a sign of trouble. Dr. Larry Steckle recently published an article addressing a similar concern with dicamba.


The picture above shows “Response of Palmer amaranth to 0.5 lbs/A of Dicamba: 2001 collected seed Left and 2019 collected seed Right. 11 days after application”.

What about the PPO herbicides? Although it is complex for a scientist to be able to say a weed is resistant to a specific herbicide, we now have the data required to make that statement. Palmer amaranth resistant to topical applications of PPO herbicides are in Georgia.


The photo (above) of plants dead (left) are from a known sensitive population treated with Reflex at 24 oz/A plus surfactant in the greenhouse. The plants surviving (right) were treated at the same time with 240, yes 240, oz/A of Reflex plus surfactant; plants were also not controlled with Cobra or Ultra Blazer at enormous rates. It is important to note, the world of weed control in Georgia is not ending as most growers are making and implementing sound management programs. However, there are a few that need a wakeup call………..hopefully this information will fulfill that need!!! Make good decisions, use cover crops or tillage, start clean, two residual at-plant herbicides, make sure your program includes at least 5 different classes of herbicide chemistry AND PULL OUT ESCAPES! Also stay in touch with your local extension for the best management programs.

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Using Pesticides Wisely (UPW) 2020

Using Pesticides Wisely Training moved to online delivery April 21-23, 2020

The University of Georgia (UGA) and Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) dicamba training program will complete the 2020 sessions using online webinar delivery of materials. The decision of the U.S. EPA requires only applicators who were not trained in 2019 to be trained in 2020. Online sessions remove the limitations of meeting room capacity, thus growers can register for the date and time which works best for their schedule. Please note that each session has its own registration link, so it is important to use the link that matches your preferred time. Registration information will require that you enter your address, phone number, email and pesticide license number (a license is not required for 2,4D application, just type in N/A). The meeting link will be emailed to registrants prior to the session. Using Pesticide Wisely (UPW) will last about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Participants will be able to submit questions using a chat box or over phone. Attendee’s names will be placed on a list posted to the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s auxin website at Please allow up to 21 days after the training date for names to be posted. This list will serve as the official training record as attendance verification.
Date and Time:  April 21, 10:00 am

Host Agent:  Bill Tyson, Bulloch County,

Host’s Number:  912-871-6130

Registration Link:
Date and Time:  April 22, 10:00 am

Host Agent:  Raymond Joyce, Laurens County

Host’s Number:  478-272-2277

Registration Link:
Date and Time:  April 23, 10:00 am

Host Agent:  Brian Cresswell, Early County

Host’s Number: 229-723-3072

Registration Link:
Date and Time:  April 23, 6:00 pm

Host Agent:  Justin Hand, Tift County

Host’s Number: 229-646-1413

Registration Link:

If you have any questions call/text Sydni Barwick (2292258952).


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Early Season Thrips Management (Abney):

Getting ready to plant peanuts should also mean getting ready to manage thrips and Tomato Spotted Wilt (TSWV). Three of the most important and easy to adjust thrips/TSWV management tactics are choosing the right cultivar, considering planting date, and deciding on an at-plant insecticide. Most will plant GA-06G in 2020, but those who do not need to be certain that the cultivar they choose has good resistance to TSWV. The warm spring we are experiencing will almost certainly result in more peanuts being planted early. Any peanuts planted before May 10 are at increased risk of thrips injury and TSWV infection. Planting some of the crop after May 10 will help hedge against the risk of losses to TSWV. There are only a few options for controlling thrips with insecticides, and nothing much has changed in the last few years. Growers can use phorate (Thimet), imidacloprid (Admire Pro and others), or aldicarb (Ag-Logic) in the furrow at planting. Phorate is the only insecticide that has been proven to reduce the risk of TSWV infection in peanut. The convenience and ease of applying liquid imidacloprid has driven an increase in the popularity of this active ingredient in some parts of the state. Those who are planting early (before May 10) need to know that imidacloprid in furrow will not reduce the risk of TSWV. Those who choose not to use insecticide at planting need to scout for thrips as soon as plants begin to
emerge. Acephate (Orthene) applications should be applied before heavy thrips injury occurs. In the final run up to what promises to be a wide-open planting season, making sure all application equipment is properly calibrated can save money and help ensure optimal performance of pest control products.

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