Cotton Bolls Provide HomeSometimes plants open themselves up to an invasion by providingfertile campgrounds. This can happen when cotton bolls, the partof the plant that produces the lint, first open. Rain can bringinto the open boll bacteria and fungi that find a wonderfulenvironment to flourish and destroy the boll, he said.Boll rot caused $18.5 million in economic damage to Georgiacotton in 2001 alone.Some attacks take place underground. Plant pathologists andfarmers have been fighting a tiny cotton nemesis, the nematode,for years. The nematode is a flat worm that attacks the plant’sroot system, choking off water and nutrients.”A very small population can build and build and build,” he said.”In a good, wet year, you may not see that dramatic an effect.But a dry year, you can see if the root system is functioningwell or not.”Nematodes are hard to control. The farmers’ best tool is frequently rotating the crops they plant in a field. “But with less and less land and fewer crops out there to make money, rotation becomes difficult,” he said.Diseases in DisguiseSome diseases are masters of disguise. They can look like onedisease but act like something else. One such disease has startedpopping up in Georgia peanut fields in recent years.Funky leaf spot appears to be similar to another leaf spotdisease. But conventional chemicals don’t appear to affect itmuch. It hasn’t caused much damage yet.”But you have to track it down to see if it’s important or not,”Kemerait said.Funky leaf spot acts strangely in another way, too. It seems tohelp another disease in its war on the peanut plant.One Disease Helps AnotherIt causes the plant to drop leaves. The leaves fall to the groundand begin to decompose. And this decomposition releases chemicalsthat spark another fungus, the one that causes white mold, togerminate, become more active and attack the plant.Last year, white mold cost farmers $24 million in damage andtreatment costs. “In combination, (funky leaf) could make whitemold worse each year,” he said.Farmers can’t relax their war on diseases, he said.”But if you take our best growers, the ones who do everythingthey can right, they generally have the upper hand on thediseases,” he said.However, some growers aren’t able to rotate crops. Others arelate applying chemicals or other preventive measures.”Those are the ones the diseases get the best of,” he said. “Andonce (the diseases) get ahead, it can be difficult to bring themback in.” By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaSecond only to actually buying the seed for a crop, fightingdiseases is the most essential thing a farmer has to do to grow asuccessful crop in Georgia, said Bob Kemerait, a plantpathologist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.Georgia peanut farmers, for example, spent $65 million fightingdiseases last year and still lost $50 million of their crop todisease damage. Tomato spotted wilt virus began attacking several Georgia crops,including vegetables, tobacco and peanuts, in the mid-1980s. Thisdisease preferred an aerial assault. Carried inside tiny insectscalled thrips, it has swept over much of the state. It continuesto terrorize farmers, especially peanut farmers.This year, Kemerait said, TSWV has damaged as much as 70 percentof some peanut fields. “Some growers had forgotten how bad itcould be,” he said.Some diseases, like an infantry invasion, prefer to attack headon. Soreshin, a cotton disease, cuts plants off at the “knees,”he said.”The fungus nibbles at the plant at the soil line,” Kemeraitsaid. “It weakens the plant. The plant tends to topple over, likethe knees have been cut from beneath it.” TSWV Terrorizes Farmers
Some supporters have been critical of their style of play, and they’ve failed to score in four out of their last seven matches in all competitions.But they can replace Leicester at the top of the Premier League when they play the leaders tomorrow.