US: Serious whitefly issues for Florida growers

Based on early reports, 2016 may be another challenging year for whitefly management. Reports have come from the Florida Keys to Palm Beach County that whitefly populations in landscapes are reaching unprecedented levels and are not responding to pesticide applications: Biotype-Q has been found in four different communities (Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach Island, Boynton Beach, and Boca Raton: the first time Biotype-Q has ever been found on plants outside a nursery or greenhouse.

University of Florida/IFAS researchers are working with USDA-APHIS, USDA-ARS, the Florida Department of Agriculture, and with growers and landscape professionals to manage the developing problem. SAF and AmericanHort are joining with the Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA), and with the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) in the effort. Cooperation by growers, landscape professionals and the public is essential.
Of the two major whitefly "biotypes," the B-biotype has been present in the U.S. since the 1980s, and is controllable by proper management in growing operations and in the landscape, although some resistance to pesticides is developing. The Q-biotype, first seen in the U.S. in 2005, is much more difficult to manage. Over spraying in an attempt to try to control the B-biotype may result in the spread of the Q-biotype, and the threat in Florida of Biotype-Q could be great for the commercial production of vegetables through spread of viruses.

In 2005, the USDA convened the Ad Hoc Whitefly Task Force, comprised of state and federal regulators, leading scientists, and representatives of the nursery, cotton and vegetable industries. The Task Force developed a comprehensive and effective whitefly management program, with specific spraying recommendations for whitefly control.

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