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Combatting Peepus Marshmallowcus

Apr 01, 2022

Peepus Marshmallowcus or otherwise known as "Peeps" have returned to parts of Southwest Kansas.  Here's what you need to know to combat this noxious pest.  
Peepus Marshmallowcus at mature stage.  [Stock Photo - 2019]

"Peeps" is essentially a fungus.  It comes from the Ascomycota family and once the colorful spores emerge, it can spread like wildfire," says GCC Agronomist, Jerrald Rowan.  "The most common colors Peeps can produce is yellow or pink but there are known to be a few others, though they are rarer."

Peeps also take on a couple different shapes that are akin to animals so they've been classified as either Bunny Peeps or Chick Peeps.  Chick Peeps were the first classification discovered but over the years the bunny classification emerged and has almost taken over in certain areas. 

Says Rowan, "Yeah you tend to see more of the Chick class along more of the corn belt region, and mostly the bunny class out here in the plains.  We did have some of the Chick class but the Bunnies have all but nearly choked the Chicks out."

So what's the threat of Peeps exactly?  "The Peeps cycle begins when a conidium lands on foliage and becomes attached to the host surface through production of spore tip mucilage.  This is followed by a series of developmental steps:  germination, tube growth, formation of a specialized cell known as an appressorium,  emergergence of a peg, and subsiquently invasive growth in the host, diverting resources away from the crop and into the host," says a scientific journalist from ScienceDirect.  

"Once you see the formation of the white fungus at the button stage in the fields, you're too late," says Rowan.  "A proactive approach is the name of the game to get ahead of this disease.  It can greatly affect your yield if not caught early."  
Peepus Marshmallowcus at button stage.  [Stock Photo - 2019]

Rowan says GCC has a number of products to combat Peeps.  "We've got several solutions with two to three modes of action.  Propiconazole and Trifloxystrobin are a couple key ingredients that we've really seen do a great job at erradicating this fungus if caught early enough.  Another mode of action that seems to work exceptionally well is to just eat them."  

Contact your local agronomist or e-mail for more information.


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