Students help remedy onion disease - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Students help remedy onion disease

September 1, 2004

Nashville - The solution to Vidalia onion farmers' problems could be in these weeds. "The virus does tend to weaken the plants so they are susceptible to other diseases," said Ali Csinos, Ag Teacher.

She's talking about the Iris Yellow Spotted Virus. Farmers aren't sure what's causing the disease or where its coming from, but these Berrien High students are finding some answers. "We collected the weeds around our school and took them to Tifton and tested them for the diseases," said Sarah Schaffner.

With a little help from their Ag teacher Ali Csinos, Sarah and Anna Schaffner took on the experiment for the Future Farmers of America state convention. While many researches believed the disease was contained in Vidalia, the girls found different results. "Their research supports the theory that the virus has been present in the state, since Berrien County doesn't grow any commercial onions and we did find the virus present in some weeds growing here in the school yard," said Csinos.

"This is the first time IYSV has been discovered in Berrien and we also found two new weed varieties that have the disease," said Anna.

Because the virus is so new to Georgia, farmers aren't sure exactly how much damage it can cause to the onions. But they're hoping the information from this weed experiment will help prevent it from spreading. "This gives researchers the idea that maybe they need to look at a whole state approach in contracting the disease, because it can be brought in from an area that may not even be growing onions," said Csinos.

The experiment is paying off for farmers, and these students. Sarah and Anna won first place at the state convention and will represent Georgia at the national finals.

posted at 4:40 P.M. by ashley.harper@walb.com