Tifton -- About 80 industry representatives, scientists and agricultural researchers made the trip to the UGA Tifton campus to learn about combating Tospoviruses. The fatal plant diseases have emerged as the greatest natural threat to peanuts and tobacco throughout the Southeast.
Even as fields in south Georgia sit empty after this year’s harvest, farm group representatives and research scientists from across the southeast gathered for a summit in Tifton Thursday, the first of it's kind since 1997.
"What we are hoping to accomplish is bring all the people that are working together in this arena to one place, and all that information will be shared equally acrossed the United States" said UGA Professor Csinos.
The diseases caused by Tospoviruses are costing Georgia farmers alone about $50 million a year in crop losses. The most infamous virus to Georgia is the tomato spotted wilt virus, caused by tiny insects called thrips, that thrive in Georgia’s mild weather.
"Because of our strategic location in the Southeast here in Georgia we have optimum weather conditions for both the vector, which is a thrips, and also the virus, but also a huge diversity of crops" said UGA Professor Csinos.
Peanut farmers can lower their risk of crop's getting the disease by using the tomato spotted wilt virus risk index developed at UGA in Tifton. It is this kind of knowledge that researchers from across the southeast will share to combat Tospoviruses especially for peanut and tobacco crops.
"We still have not learned how to control the virus, but what we have learned to do is manage it" said Georgia Peanut Commission Assistant Director Emory Murphy.
Some ornamental flowers like petunias, zinnias, and Impatients may also be at risk.