Florida’s vegetable producers should be wary that whitefly infestation numbers are increasing across the southern part of the state, according to the South Florida Pest and Disease Hotline.
Reports indicate that whiteflies in southwest Florida re moderate and increasing on tomato, pepper, eggplant, squash, cucumber and watermelon. High numbers are reported to have been moving into young fields from mature fields, with nymph stages being increasingly found in mature fields.
Cucurbit crumple leaf virus and cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus are increasing in cucurbits.
Whiteflies are also high in eggplant and tomato in Homestead, Florida, and remain a problem for snap bean producers. Bean Golden Mosaic Virus has yet to be found, though silverleaf feeding damage symptoms are increasing in squash.
Whiteflies have also increased to moderate levels in most crops in the central part of the state.
Whiteflies can cause irregular ripening of a plant’s fruit or secrete honeydew, offering a path for the growth of sooty mold or saprophytic fungi. However, the viruses that whiteflies transmit, like cucurbit leaf crumple virus and tomato yellow leaf curl virus, are the most devastating. These viruses cause severe symptoms on infected plants such as yellowing of leaves, leaf crumpling, plant stunting and overall plant decline.
Management of whiteflies later in the season depends on early suppression of whitefly populations. Growers need to be aggressive with the best systemic materials like Venom, Sivanto Prime or Verimark early in the season.