Researcher seeks solutions to tomato yellow leaf curl

05/17/2013 08:25:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Rajagopalbabu Srinivasan,Courtesy University of GeorgiaUniversity of Georgia entomologist Rajagopalbabu Srinivasan checks tomato plants for tomato yellow leaf curl virus. Tomato yellow leaf curl virus has been around south Georgia for more than a decade, and the problem only seems to be getting worse.

Although eradication isn't possible, University of Georgia researchers are working to help farmers select resistant varieties to help manage the problem, according to a news release.

But growers may be hesitant because they believe resistant varieties don't necessarily carry desirable agronomic traits, such as strong consumer appeal.

Rajagopalbabu Srinivasan, a University of Georgia entomologist, is working to develop a web-based risk-assessment tool so farmers can plug in production options to see how much risk they carry.

Tomato yellow leaf curl virus causes yelllow foliage, leaf curl and plant stunting.

The virus, which is carried by whiteflies, was severe last year, showing up as early as two weeks after transplanting.

Growers routine spray for whitefly, an often futile practice since whiteflies can transmit the virus in as few as five minutes during feeding.

"It kind of tells us that insecticides can be effective to suppress the insects but not the viruses that they transmit," Srinivasan said in the release. "In such scenarios, we'll have to weigh our options and come up with some other tactics, which include resistant varieties and cultural tactics."

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