Southern Corn Rust is spotted in Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Southern Corn Rust is spotted in Georgia

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –The sizzling temperatures and frequent evening showers provide perfect weather conditions for disease in South Georgia crops.

Agriculture experts recommend farmers take action now on one particularly bad problem.

Afternoons heat indeces over 110 can really take a toll on crops, but it's perfect for allowing diseases to breed.

Now Southern Corn Rust has carried on the winds from South America or the Caribbean to Georgia. It's in extreme Southern counties now, and ag experts are urging corn farmers to plan to spray as soon as possible.

Worth County extension agent Rusty Harris examines a corn field for signs of Southern Rust.

Harris said "It's orange color and that's why they call it rust. This particular one is a very aggressive disease. It will reproduce very rapidly."

The disease spores have blown in storm clouds into extreme South Georgia, and will spread across the state's corn crop soon.

Harris said "For that reason we're recommending that all farmers go ahead and make a preventative spray for the disease if they don't have it. And don't wait, go ahead and do it as quickly as possible."

The Southern Rust can kill corn, and will ruin the crop if not treated with chemical herbicide. Ag experts are urging farmers to line up crop dusters or spraying as soon as possible, a costly expense for the farmers.

Harris said "Research has shown that one spray will probably double if not triple the investment in what it returns."

Peanuts are also feeling the effects of the extreme heat. Farmers have measured temperatures in excess of 140 degrees near the young plants....and that heat is leading to early blooms. That will cut the yield in the fall. The only way to fight the heat, keep water on the plants.

Of course irrigation also costs the farmers more money. But with the heat it's the only way South Georgia farmers can produce the highest quality, yield, and profit.

There are 4000 acres of corn in Worth County alone,  so ag experts say it's important for farmers to make plans as soon as possible to spray the Southern Rust. They expect to harvest the crop at the end of July.

Agriculture is Georgia's number one industry and one of its largest employers.  During this time of high unemployment, crop yields are vital to the state's economic livelihood.

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