Whitefly Taskforce Encourages Growers’ Vigilance

September 7, 2007 - 08:34

As greater-than-normal buildup of whiteflies on field crops continues to plague parts of Southeastern United States, the Ad Hoc Whitefly Task Force is asking ornamental growers to do their part in the fight to manage whiteflies.

The task force, comprised of state and federal regulators, representatives of the ornamentals, cotton and vegetable industries as well as leading scientists, has been working together to develop effective whitefly management programs since 2005. In an official letter issued to U.S. ornamental growers, the task force stated, “the success of this effort has serious economic implications for U.S. agriculture, and depends in part on you.”

Based on early reports, 2007 will likely be another challenging year for whitefly management, which have been detected in some rooted cuttings shipments. The hot dry conditions have promoted an increase in whitefly infestation.
The task force encourages growers to remain vigilant and follow certain steps to avoid resistance development in any whitefly populations.

Growers should:

Scout. Inspect your crops at least weekly.
Exclude or isolate. If at all possible, try to exclude whiteflies from your growing facility with screening materials, and if possible, isolate the facility so that workers have to enter through an anteroom.

Practice good sanitation. Keep weeds down, maintain good growing practices.

Inspect incoming shipments and isolate if necessary. If you notice many whiteflies (a few is normal) on incoming shipments, keep those shipments separate from other crops until they have been treated. Also, contact your propagator or rooting system to inform them about the situation.

Watch your neighbors’ fields. If you’re near cotton or vegetable fields, you may see whiteflies migrate to your greenhouse at the end of their season.

Study and implement. The “Management Program for Whiteflies on Propagated Ornamentals” is recommended by the Task Force and available at www.mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/LSO/bemisia/bemisia.htm.

Report control problems. If you have control problems, contact your propagator, your local extension agent or university expert. Follow the “Whitefly Management Program” and get your whiteflies biotyped. The information will be kept absolutely confidential.

The task force also stressed the two goals of any effective whitefly management program. First, it should help growers produce a high quality, salable crop for the final consumer. Secondly, it ought to preserve the chemical tools that agriculture uses to manage whiteflies. Insecticide misuse or over spraying in the United States may result in whitefly populations that cannot be controlled, the task force warned in a press release.

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