Published on 11/10/05

Tobacco disease meeting set Nov. 29 in Tifton

University of Georgia

Farmers or anyone else interested in Georgia's tobacco crop should attend the "Georgia Statewide Tobacco Meeting: Planning for TSWV in 2006" Nov. 29 in Tifton, Ga.

The meeting will be at the University of Georgia Rural Development Center. Registration starts 9:15 a.m.

Farmers will get "the most up-to-date information available from university research and extension work to reduce the losses they have suffered from tomato spotted wilt virus," said J. Michael Moore, a UGA Cooperative Extension tobacco agronomist.

TSWV is a deadly, yield-reducing disease carried by tiny insects called thrips. It hurts Georgia tobacco and other farm crops each year. But it was especially hard on tobacco this year, infecting 35 percent of the crop statewide and cutting yields by as much as 18 percent.

About 1,000 farmers grew tobacco in Georgia in 2004. Then the federal government ended the Depression-era tobacco quota program that helped keep prices level. This year, about 500 farmers grew tobacco in Georgia.

Hit by disease and heavy rains, this year's disastrous crop may sway more farmers to quit next year, Moore said. The rest will have to fight TSWV for the yields they'll need to get contracts from tobacco companies.

The Tifton meeting will help them do that. To learn more about it, call your local UGA Cooperative Extension office at 1-800- ASK-UGA1. Or call (229) 386-3006.

Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.