South GA cotton growers battle white flies this season

Updated: Jul. 21, 2017 at 5:16 PM EDT
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(Source: Thomas Co. Ag)
(Source: Thomas Co. Ag)

THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - Right now Cotton Growers in South Georgia are trying to tackle a pesky problem, white flies.

A tiny insect that is creating huge problems for cotton growers in South Georgia.

"White fly damage can really totally take down the plant," said Andrew Sawyer, Thomas County UGA extension agent.

This is a relatively new issue for our South Georgia growers.

With a warm winter and steady warm temperatures, it's allowing the populations to grow faster than they normally would.

"The important thing is going to be to scout and get on this very early," said Sawyer.

White flies can be found on the underside of leaves.

Sawyer says the white fly populations are best estimated from the 5th leaf on the plant.

You are looking for white little bugs that can quickly fly off when you turn the leaf over.

Sawyer said leaves are considered infested when 3 adult white flies are observed.

So what is the impact? UGA agriculture agents said it can be very costly if the white flies are able to kill the crop.

"The cost of controlling white flies up front is going to be much less than trying to control these things on the back end," said Sawyer.

Infestations are possible to treat but Sawyer explained the earlier you catch it, the better off you will be.

"Populations of white flies start to increase so much that we're having hundreds. The products that we have that can kill all the growth stages at that point would not be able to keep up," said Sawyer.

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