Sensors to control pecan disease -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sensors to control pecan disease

June 16, 2003

Dougherty County - Southwest Georgia has been getting a lot of rain lately. That rain can be good and bad for pecan farmers. A new study is being done in Dougherty County to find how much rain it takes to spark pecan scab disease which can devastate a pecan crop.

Hidden behind the leaves a white box sits on a limb recording information. Dougherty County Extension Agent, Dr. Lenny Wells, says, "These sensors detect temperature and leaf wetness every 15 minutes."

Dr. Wells is putting sensors in pecan trees to track the pecan scab disease. He says, "We only have four orchards here in Dougherty County we are doing this in and I think Mitchell County has four as well."

The sensors will hopefully answer questions such as, how much moisture and what temperatures spark the disease. Dr. Wells explains, "Any time you have more rain, high humidity and high temperatures, you're gonna have more disease problems."

Pecan trees hit by the disease have leaves with black spots. When the tree gets too many black spots, leaves fall off early which reduces the crop. Dr. Wells says, "Pecan scab is the major disease pecan growers face each year. They get lesions on leaves and later develop on nuts as well."

All pecan growers are aware of the disease and spray trees every two weeks. He says, "Especially with all the rain we've had it can get out of hand and reduce the crop." Dr. Wells will visit the sensors every other week to download the data. Those trees will not be sprayed.

The study could last two to three years and could help growers send more pecans to market.

Extension agents say Dougherty County has 15,000 acres of pecan trees, second most in the state behind Mitchell County.

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