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Maria Balota

Maria Balota headshot
6321 Holland Road
Suffolk, VA 23437

Maria Balota is a Professor with two-way appointment in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences (SPES) covering 75% research and 25% extension.  She resides at the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center (TAREC) in Suffolk, VA, where she serves as the leader of the Crop Physiology program. The foundation of her research and extension programs has evolved around peanut, sorghum, wheat and specialty crops.

  • Stress physiology of field crops
  • Peanut cultivar development
  • High-throughput phenotyping
  • Sustainable crop production


  • Ph.D., Plant Physiology, University of Bucharest, Romania, 1997
  • B.S., Agronomy, University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Romania, 1982 
Program Focus

The overall goal of my research is to provide leadership for the crop physiology applications to improve production systems' sustainability in Virginia and mid-Atlantic region. This has been accomplished through research addressing abiotic stress adaptation of field crops and development of high-throughput phenotypic methods, and participation in nationally recognized Multi-State Hatch projects, S 1069 and S 1079.

My research focusses on phenomics of the currently grown crops, with emphasis on peanut, and future crops to fit the Commonwealth environment. This has been driven by climate change along with the lack of knowledge in plant adaptation to drought and heat during otherwise “good rainy” years. Employing direct and aerial measurements of the plant physiological, morphological, and agronomic characteristics, my research determined that water is undoubtedly a significant factor limiting yield in the sub-humid Virginia, where each degree Centigrade increase in temperature (5˚C increase is expected by 2080) can reduce peanut yield by 11%.

Grants and Current Research Projects:
  • U.S. Agency for International Development, Peanut Innovation Lab; $843,490. Adoption of high throughput phenotyping in varietal development throughout the Groundnut Improvement Network of Africa (GINA). (2018-2027); PI.
  • NIFA-SCRI; $2,664, 745. Enhanced Mid-Atlantic system sustainability through development of high-protein and stress tolerant faba bean for winter production. (2023-2027); PI.
  • NIFA-AFRI; $500,000. Peanut Variety and Quality Evaluation - Harnessing Multiscale Data for Trait Prediction to Support Cultivar Release Decisions. (2023-2026); PI.
  • National Peanut Board; $28,500. Effect of prohexadione calcium on  peanut grown for seed production. (2024-2025); PI.
  • Virginia Crop Improvement Association and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; $160,364. Dissecting phenotypic and genetic pollen viability in response to temperature stress and its effect on yield of peanut. (2022-2026); PI & Co-PI. 
  • University of Georgia/PIL/USAIDA; $522,266.00. Adoption of High Throughput Phenotyping (HTP) in Varietal Development Throughout the Groundnut Improvement Network of Africa (GINA). (2023-2027); PI.

2021 - present   Professor, Tidewater AREC, Virginia Tech

2014 - 2021     Associate Professor, Tidewater AREC, Virginia Tech

2008 - 2014    Assitant Professor, Tidewater AREC, Virginia Tech

2000 - 2008   Postdoc/Research Scientist, Texas A&M University

1982 - 1999     Researcher, Natl. Agric. Res. & Develop. Ins, Romania  

Selected Major Awards
  • 2022 - Faculty Fellow, Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture, Virginia Tech
  • 2012 - High Impact Paper Award (J. Integrative Agriculture) (shared with other 3 co-authors)
  • 2011 - Recognition of Service, Crop Science Society of America
  • 2000 - Scholarship – Fulbright International Educational Exchange Program, USA
  • 1998 - Travel Award, European Science Foundation
  • 1997 - Fellowship, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • 1995 - Fellowship, European Commission
Program Focus

My primary role is to develop sustainable production programs. The primary extension thrust of these programs is in utilization of the most profitable varieties by farmers and identification of profitable rotational crops. My overall Extension goal is to maintain agricultural profitability through selection and use of the highest yielding and water-use efficient varieties of peanut, faba bean, and other

Extension Publications



Publications Over the Past Five Years
Lead author in bold; corresponding author underlined; * by lead author denotes graduate student, postdoc, or visiting scientist advised.
  • Kumar, N., Haak, D.C., Dunne, J.C., Balota, M. (2024). Phenotypic dissection of drought tolerance in Virginia and Carolinas within a Recombinant Inbred Line population involving a spanish and a virginia-type peanut lines. Agriculture 2024, 14, 908.
  • Balota, M.; Sarkar, S*.; Bennett, R.S.; Burow, M.D. (2024). Phenotyping Peanut Drought Stress with Aerial Remote-Sensing and Crop Index Data. Agriculture 2024, 14, 565.
  • Chapu, I*.; Chandel, A.; Sie, E.K.; Okello, D.K.; Oteng-Frimpong, R.; Okello, R.C.O.; Hoisington, D.; Balota, M. (2024). Comparing Regression and Classification Models to Estimate Leaf Spot Disease in Peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) for Implementation in Breeding Selection. Agronomy 2024, 14, 947.
  • Seidu, A.; Abudulai, M.; Dzomeku, I.K.; Mahama, G.Y.; Nboyine, J.A.; Appaw, W.; Akromah, R.; Arthur, S.; Bolfrey-Arku, G.; Mochiah, M.B.; et al. (2024). Evaluation of Production and Pest Management Practices in Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) in Ghana. Agronomy 2024, 14, 972. 14050972
  • Oakes, J*., Balota, M., Cazenave, A. -B., & Thomason, W. (2024). Using Aerial Spectral Indices to Determine Fertility Rate and Timing in Winter Wheat. Agriculture, 14(1), 95. doi:10.3390/agriculture14010095 Published online: 2024-01-03.
  • Jordan, D. L., Anco, D., Balota, M., Langston, D., Lux, L., Shew, B., & Brandenburg, R. L. (2024). Survey of herbicide and fungicide use in peanut in North Carolina and Virginia in the United States. Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management, 10(1), e20263.
  • Jordan, D. L., Anco, D., Balota, M., & Brandenburg, R. L. 2024. Farmer insights on harvesting peanut: A survey from the Virginia–Carolina region of the United States. Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management, 10(1), e20262.
  •  Jordan, D. L., Shew, B. B., Brandenburg, R. L., Anco, D., & Balota, M. 2023. Summary of tillage practices in peanut in the Virginia–Carolina region of the United States. Crop, Forage & Turfgrass Management, 9(1), e20222.
  • Oteng-Frimpong R, Karikari B, Sie EK, Kassim YB, Puozaa DK, Rasheed MA, Fonceka D, Okello DK, Balota M, Burow M and Ozias-Akins P (2023) Multi-locus genome-wide association studies reveal genomic regions and putative candidate genes associated with leaf spot diseases in African groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) germplasm. Front. Plant Sci. 13:1076744.doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.1076744
  • Bennett, R., Burow, M., Balota, M., Chagoya, J., Sarkar, S., Sung, C., Payton, M., Wang, N., Payton, P., Chamberlin, K., Mornhinweg, D. 2022. Response to Drought Stress in a Subset of the U.S. Peanut Mini-core Evaluated in Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia, Peanut Science 49(1), p.71-87. doi:
  • Kumar, N*.; Haak, D.C.; Dunne, J.C.; Balota, M. 2022. Multilocation Evaluation of Virginia and RunnerType Peanut Cultivars for Yield and Grade in Virginia–Carolina Region. Agronomy 2022, 12, 3206. agronomy12123206
  • Oteng-Frimpong, R., Karikari, B., Sie, E.K*., Kassim, Y.B., Puozaa, D.K., Masawudu, A.R., Fonceka, D., Kalule, D.., Balota. M., Burow, M.D., Ozias-Akins, P. 2022. Multi-locus genome-wide association studies reveal genomic regions and putative candidate genes associated with leaf spot diseases in African groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) germplasm. Front. Plant Sci. (in press) DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2022.1076744.
  • Kassim, Y.B.; Oteng-Frimpong, R.; Puozaa, D.K.; Sie, E.K*.; Abdul Rasheed, M.; Abdul Rashid, I.; Danquah, A.; Akogo, D.A.; Rhoads, J.; Hoisington, D.; Burow, M.D., and Balota, M. 2022. High-Throughput Plant Phenotyping (HTPP) in Resource-Constrained Research Programs: A Working Example in Ghana. Agronomy (MDPI), 12, 2733.
  • Sarkar, S*., Oakes, J., Cazenave, A.B., Burow, M.D., Bennett, R.S., Chamberlin, K. D., Wang, N., White, M., Payton, P., Mahan, J., Chagoya, J., Sung, C-J., McCall, D.S., Thomason, T.E., and Balota, M. 2022. Evaluation of the U.S. peanut germplasm mini-core collection in the Virginia-Carolina region using traditional and high-throughput methods. Agronomy (MDPI) 12(8), 1945,
  • Chapu, I*., Okello, D.K., Okello, R.C.O., Odong, T.L., Sarkar, S., and Balota, M. 2022. Exploration of alternative approaches to phenotyping of late leaf spot and groundnut rosette virus disease for groundnut breeding. Front. Plant Sci., 13: 912332, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.912332. (915 views, 7/21/2022).
  • Sie, E.K*., Oteng-Frimpong, R., Kassim, Y.B., Puozaa, D.K., Adjebeng-Danquah, J., Masawudu, A.R., Ofori, K., Danquah, A., Cazenave, A.B., Hoisington, D., Rhoads J., and Balota, M. 2022. RGB-image method enables indirect selection for leaf spot resistance and yield estimation in a groundnut breeding program in Western Africa, Front. Plant Sci., 13:901561, (517 views, 8/16/2022).
  • Sarkar, S*., Cazenave, AB., Oakes, J. McCall, D., Thomason, W. Abbott, L. and Balota, M. 2021. Aerial high-throughput phenotyping of peanut leaf area index and lateral growth. Sci Rep 11, 21661 (2021).
  • Anco, D.J., Balota, M., Dunne, J.C., and Brown, N. 2021. Sound splits as influenced by seed size for runner and virginia market type peanut shelled on a reciprocating sheller. Agronomy 2021, 11, 1896.
  • Balota, M., Tillman, B.L., Paula-Moraes, S.V., and Anco, D. 2021. ‘Walton’, a new virginia-type peanut suitable for Virginia and northern U.S. growing regions. Journal Plant Registrations
  • Sarkar, S*., A.F. Ramsey, A. B. Cazenave, and Balota, M. 2021. Peanut leaf wilting estimation from RGB color indices and logistic models. Front. Plant. Sci. 18 June 2021,
  • Ramsey, A.F., Tack, J.B., and Balota, M. 2020. Double or nothing: impacts on warming on crop quantity, quality, and revenue. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 10.22004/ag.econ.307462.
  • Oakes*, J., Balota, M., Jordan, D. L., Hare, and A., Sadeghpour, A. 2020. Peanut response to seeding rate and digging date in the Virginia-Carolina region. Peanut Sci. 47:180-188.
  • Balota, M. 2020. Rainout shelter-induced water deficit negatively impacts peanut yield and quality in a sub-humid environment. Peanut Science 47(2):54-65.
  • Appaw, W., Ellis, W.O., Akromah, R., Mochiah, M.B., Dankyi, A., Abudulai, M., Jordan, D.L., Brandenburg, R.L., Jelliffe, J., Bravo-Ureta, B.E., Boote, K., MacDonald, G., Chen, J., Phillips, R.D., Mallikarjunan, K., Balota, M., Hoisington, D., and Rhoads, J. 2020. Minimizing aflatoxin contamination in the field, during drying, and in storage in Ghana. Peanut Sci. 47(2):72-80.
  • Abudulai, M., Mahama, G., Dzomeku, I., Seidu, A., Sugri, I., Nboyine, J. A., Opoku, N., Alhassan, M. H., Appaw, W., Ellis, W. O., Akromah, R., Mochiah, M. B., Dankyi, A., Jordan, D. L. , Brandenburg, R. L., Bravo-Ureta, B. E., Jelliffe, J., Boote, K., MacDonald, G., Chen, J., Phillips, R. D. , Mallikarjunan, K., Balota, M., Hoisington, D., and Rhoads, J. 2020. Evaluating improved management practices to minimize aflatoxin contamination in the field, during drying, and in storage in Ghana. Peanut Sci. 47(3):156-162.
  • Kaufman, A. A., Jordan, D. L., Reberg-Horton, C., Dean, L. L., Shew, B. B., Brandenburg, R. L., Anco, D., Mehl, H., Taylor, S., Balota, M., Goodell, L. S., and Allen. J. 2020. Identifying interest, risk, and impressions of organic peanut production: a survey of conventional farmers in the Virginia-Carolina region. Crop, Forage Turfgrass Management. DOI:10.1002/cft2.20042.
  • Jordan, D. L., Dunne, J., Stalker, H. T., Shew, B. B., Brandenburg, R. L., Anco, D., Mehl, H., Taylor, S., and Balota, M. 2020. Risk to sustainability of pest management tools in peanut. Agric. Environ. Letters 5: e20018. DOI: 10.1002/ael2.20018. I provided growers’ surveys and participated at writing the manuscript and revisions.
  • Sarkar*, S., Cazenave, A. B., Oakes, J., McCall, D., Wade, T., Lynn, A., and Balota, M. 2020. High-throughput measurement of peanut canopy height using Digital Surface Models (DSMs). The Plant Phenome J. 3(1): e20003. doi:10.1002/ppj2.20003.
  • Balota, M., and Isleib, T.G. 2020. Registration of ‘GP-VT NC 01’ peanut germplasm. Journal of Plant Registrations 14(2): 172-178. doi:10.1002/plr2.20028.
  • Brasier, K.G., Ward, B, Smith, J, Seago, J, Oakes, J, Balota, M, et al. 2020. Identification of quantitative trait loci associated with nitrogen use efficiency in winter wheat. PLoS ONE 15(2): e0228775. pone.0228775.
  • Brasier, K.G., Oakes, J., Balota, M., et al. 2020. Genotypic variation and stability for nitrogen use efficiency in winter wheat. Crop Sci. 60(1): 32-49
  • Brasier, K. G., Oakes, J., Balota, M., Thomason, W., Griffey, C. 2019. Greater biomass accumulation at anthesis increases nitrogen use efficiency in winter wheat. Agron. J. 111(5):2163-2173.


Lead author in bold; corresponding author underlined;

* by lead author denotes graduate student, postdoc, or visiting scientist advised.

Woman stands in front of glacier forms in Yellowstone National Park
Dr. Maria Balota attended the annual meeting for S1069 Research and Extension for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Applications in U.S. Agriculture and Natural Resources in June 2024. She is pictured here during a visit to Yellowstone National Park, prior to the meeting at Montana State University.