Georgia grower-shippers are battling whiteflies.
The pest isn’t causing major problems, but growers say buyers should expect lower yields, particularly with squash.
submitted photoWhiteflies are a problem on some Georgia fall production vegetables, changing their color, like these squash. Grower-shippers say the pest isn’t causing major problems but say the flies are harming yields “It has caused some issues, particularly with the squash,” said Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., which grows and ships from Moultrie, Ga. “It’s such a vector for different viruses that affect the production of squash. It’s hard to say now, but it will definitely affect the yield.
“Some areas have it real bad while some don’t have it as much,” Lytch said.
Cucumbers are also being affected, Lytch said Oct. 16.
He said the pests are stressing the cucumbers, which prevents the plants from flourishing.
“There was a lot of whitefly pressure early on in Georgia,” Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for Loxahatchee, Fla.-based J&J Produce Inc., said Oct. 16. “The main problem is it makes the yellow squash have a pale color and there has been some reduction in yields, but everything is under control.”
Gary Stafford, salesman and green beans manager with Pahokee, Fla.-based Hugh H. Branch Inc., said the fly isn’t affecting corn but is damaging green beans.
“There is a problem and there’s always a problem in the fall in southwest Georgia, early on when it gets hot,” he said. “It gradually gets better. It’s not a major issue but still, it’s an issue. It depends where you are.”
Whiteflies attach themselves to the leaves and drain the plants’ nutrients, but growers say whiteflies affect plant color more than yield.
Georgia production of cucumbers, squash, bell peppers, corn and beans normally runs through mid-November as central and south Florida begin production.