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Crop diseases a concern in strawberries and tomatoes this year

Beet curly top virus can sicken subarbeets, as shown in the photo, plus tomatoes, peppers, melons and other crops.
Strawberries in the Santa Maria Valley and tomatoes in San Joaquin County are a bit under the weather, according to reports from local newspapers. The Stockton Record reported that tomato growers are facing significant losses from the beet curly top virus. The Santa Maria Sun said last year's whitefly infestation caused an outbreak of pallidosis-related decline.

Record reporter Reed Fujii spoke to Brenna Aegerter, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Joaquin County. She said she's never seen such losses due to beet curly top virus.

"In my eight years here in this county, I had only seen curly top in two fields," she said. "The virus was present in every tomato field I have seen this season, though in most fields, the incidence was so low as to not be a concern."

Beet curly top is spread by beet leafhopper. The insect don't like tomatoes and peppers, but will briefly feed on the crop and infect them before moving on, Aegerter said. The high leafhopper population is most likely a cyclic peak.

"The hope is we'll go back next year to not seeing it," Aegerter said.

Amy Asman of the Santa Maria Sun used UC Cooperative Extension materials for her story on the serious pallidosis-related disease threat in local strawberries. For detailed information about the strawberry decline, see UCCE advisor Surendra Dara's story in the Strawberries and Vegetables blog.

Posted on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM

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