Tomato spotted wilt virus has not been put “to bed”

In Southeast Farm Press

by Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia

Peanut growers hoped tomato spotted wilt virus was a thing of the past. New, improved varieties with TSWV resistance along with other better management tools finally put the disease “to bed.” But tomato spotted wilt virus will not stay down.

Once a disease that threatened the peanut industry in the Southeast, tomato spotted wilt had been on the decline since 2005 and was nearly nonexistent in peanut fields between 2009 and 2012.

As it turns out, though, keeping tomato spotted wilt suppressed now was once like trying to keep my son, Jimmy, in his bed through the night. Before he could walk, Jimmy would awake from a nap, scale his crib and crash to the floor.  Later, it was easy to get Jimmy into his bed, where he would doze peacefully.  But at some point in the night, our sleep would be interrupted by the sounds of little feet “thump, thump, thumping” across our wooden floors.  No matter how hard we tried, Jimmy would not stay in bed.

Beginning in 1990, losses to tomato spotted wilt rose steeply to peak in 1997, before sharply declining, only to peak again in 2002 and then more sharply in 2006.  The rapid decline after 1997 coincided with the adoption of what was then known as the UGA Tomato Spotted Wilt Risk Index, and the widespread planting of the moderately-resistant variety Georgia Green. The steep decline and eventual near-absence of tomato spotted wilt after 2006 coincided with the widespread planting of the more-resistant variety Georgia-06G.

By 2009, tomato spotted wilt rarely caused significant yield losses except in occasional fields where the problems were often linked to planting date, plant stand or some other production practice.  During these “quiet” years, my comments to growers about spotted wilt were limited to, “We may not see much of it this year, but remain vigilant. Thrips and the tomato spotted wilt virus are still here with us.”

For the rest of the story, go to Southeast Farm Press.

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