Peanut Protector

Abraham Fulmer's study of foliar disease aids international peanut production

Abraham Fulmer’s (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ’09; Ph.D. – Plant Pathology, ’17) research experience in leaf spot disease in peanuts and his passion for international work make him a valuable commodity in the peanut industry.

Fulmer earned his doctorate from the University of Georgia Tifton campus. He performed his dissertation research on two foliar diseases: early leaf spot and late leaf spot in peanuts. He studied the nature and behavior of these diseases to learn whether growers should manage them as two distinct diseases or as one.

“What I’ve done is take a lot of the factors that we know contribute to the risk in a field — rotation, planting date, variety being used — and tracked how both diseases develop year after year,” Fulmer said. “My results show that we can use a lot of this information to predict when each disease will start and which disease will be predominant. This is important for growers as there appears to be an opportunity to refine our fungicide timings for prescription programs based on which disease is in the field.”

Fulmer worked on this project for seven years and traveled to Haiti for three or four months for each of the last three years to study the disease there. As part of UGA’s Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (PMIL), he assisted Haitian peanut farmers in better understanding and managing peanut diseases, including leaf spot. “These farmers truly grow peanuts organically. Unfortunately, this results in major yield losses each year due to heavy disease pressure,” Fulmer said.

The lab funded Fulmer’s research in Haiti while he mentored college students and coordinated research among PMIL partners. Part of his work involved fungicide, fertility and seed row spacing trials, but he focused on finding a disease-resistant variety of peanut that would grow successfully in the country.

Fulmer is currently fielding multiple job opportunities within the agricultural industry, but his choice will ultimately hinge on the ability for him to continue international work.

“Whatever I do, I want to be able to remain somewhat involved, whether it’s volunteering a few weeks a year or taking on more of an international role, in continuing to work with people in developing countries. It is something I feel pretty committed to,” Fulmer said.

By Clint Thompson

Abraham Fulmer’s (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ’09; Ph.D. – Plant Pathology, ’17)