New Virus Threatens State’s Cotton Crop

 1561483010 
1563214428

Cotton Harves, Flickr

A new virus is threatening Alabama’s cotton crop. Many of the state’s cotton farmers are monitoring their fields more closely after agriculture officials issued warnings about the disease. The cotton leafroll dwarf virus has no known cure. The disease is in other southeastern states, and it has reduced cotton yields — measured in bales — by the tens of thousands.

The virus, which is transmitted by aphids, was first discovered in Alabama in 2017. Today it’s in 24 counties. WBHM’s Andrew Yeager spoke with Austin Hagan, plant pathologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Hagan says researchers are trying to get a clearer picture of the damage so far from the virus. “That’s why this year we’ve got a more aggressive survey program in order to try and establish the distribution and severity of the disease,” Hagan says. “Now we’ve got to put some numbers behind them.” Hagan says officials are trying to determine whether the virus is intensifying.

The impact of the virus has varied across the state. There were major losses in Baldwin County. A number of cotton fields there had 100% infection levels and didn’t yield any cotton and showed severe damage, Hagan says. Other fields, the virus appeared to have hit late enough and resulted in smaller yield loss. But overall, he says, the loss has been relatively small — several thousand acres compared with 340,000 acres of cotton across the state.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System says the virus diminishes blooms and bolls in the upper canopy, resulting in lower yields.  The disease mostly affects late-planted cotton. Officials recommend farmers plant earlier to reduce the chances of severe infection.

Photo by Cotton Harves

 

What to know about Alabama abortion rights after SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion. Here’s what the decision means for the Gulf South region.

Alabama OKs $725M bond sale to build 2 supersize prisons

That money will be added to $135 million in state funds and $400 million in pandemic relief dollars that the state already agreed to put toward the project.

Britt wins tumultuous Alabama Senate race scrambled by Trump

Katie Britt won the Republican nomination for Senate in Alabama Tuesday, defeating six-term Rep. Mo Brooks in a primary runoff after former President Donald Trump took the unusual step of rescinding his initial Brooks endorsement.

2022 Alabama primary runoff results

Republicans will be choosing between Katie Britt and Roy Moore as their nominee for U.S. Senate. Democrats will pick a nominee for governor between Yolonda Flowers and Malika Sanders-Fortier.

Gunman kills 3 seniors over potluck dinner at Alabama church

The suspect, 70-year-old Robert Findlay Smith, was charged with capital murder Friday. He is being held on no bond.

More Environment Coverage