New virus strain could be ‘devastating’ to cotton crop, agronomist says


HEADLAND, Ala. (WDHN) — A new strain of a virus could threaten this year’s cotton crop, according to experts.

Cotton is the largest crop in Alabama, and farmers are looking to plant 510,000 acres this year.

Some of these planters could experience a threat from the Dwarf virus, which targeting the popular crop. The virus is transmitted by aphids and diminishes blooms and bolls in the upper canopy of the plant that can result in lower yields, mainly in late-planted cotton.

Extension agronomist William Birdsong said they’ve spotted the virus in the Wiregrass, particularly in small areas of the cotton field.

Birdsong also said that this is something that could be devastating to the cotton crop.

“It has the potential to be very devastating to our cotton crops and our cotton yields,” he said. “However, we’re very hopeful and prayerful that it’s going to be in very small, localized areas and even in the fields that it might be located in, and it’s not going to be much of a factor as far as a yield production. Now that’s my expectation.”

Birdsong said if you do see cotton that resembles the dwarf virus, don’t panic. The Wiregrass Research and Extension Center will work with you to be able to identify any potential issues.

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