Tomato yellow leaf curl virus has been a chronic threat to tomato production in south Georgia for more than a decade. The problem is only getting worse.

A University of Georgia researcher says eradicating the disease may not be possible. However, work continues to be done to help farmers select resistant varieties and manage their risks.

Severe cases of this virus have increased in recent years, especially in the fall when whitefly pressure is high. Tomato yellow curl virus, which is transmitted by whiteflies, can cause very high yield losses and reduce the crop’s marketability. In some cases, the entire crop can be lost.

“Right now, it’s really not uncommon to find infection rates over 90 percent in several fields,” said Rajagopalbabu Srinivasan, an entomologist at the Tifton campus of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “The ramifications of this virus could be huge if we don’t try to manage it.”


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Symptoms of a tomato plant infected by the tomato yellow leaf curl virus include yellowing foliage, leaf curling and stunting. The virus had an extreme effect on tomato production last year, due in large part to heavy whitefly pressure. A year ago, plants started showing virus symptoms just two weeks after being planted.