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Southeastern tobacco succumbing to tomato spotted wilt

In Southeast Farm Press

by Chris Bickers, Southeast Farm Press

Any hopes that the U.S. tobacco crop might escape serious damage from tomato spotted wilt were dashed at the end of May and in early June when substantial infestations broke out in Georgia and the Carolinas.

Jerry Breland of the Walterboro area of South Carolina was one of the farmers reeling from the intensity of the hit his flue-cured had taken from the disease. He talked to Southeast Farm Press on June 9.

“I have never seen it this bad,” he said. “There are places around me that have 60 to 70 percent of the plants infected.”

The damage was almost entirely on the early-planted part of his crop, and he had hopes his later plantings would be spared. There was also hope the uninfected plants in infected fields might be able to compensate to some degree for yield loss, by taking advantage of unused fertilizer and also getting more sunlight.

“But sometimes you see seven or eight plants in a row that have died,” said Breland. “It is hard to see how the remaining plants could compensate for that.”

If things got no worse, he expected a 20 percent loss in his production due to spotted wilt on his farm.

“But I am really concerned with the spotted wilt because there seems to be more everyday, or maybe it’s just expressing itself more as the tobacco grows.”

In northeast South Carolina, Ben Teal of Patrick said his fields had about seven to 10 percent spotted wilt infestation. “It’s a problem for us but for some tobacco farmers, 10 percent would look pretty good right now.”

Read the rest of the story in Southeast Farm Press.

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