A 10-year battle against the insect all but wiped out the tomato industry in Texas, but the new tomato already is encouraging small processors to stay in business, according to Dr. Kevin Crosby, AgriLife Research vegetable breeder.
"We first saw this new virus around 2002 or so," Crosby said. "There were strains of this virus complex always in the Rio Grande Valley, but they weren't nearly as easily spread by the whitefly as this new strain that originated in the Middle East and then went from Florida to Mexico and then came to Texas.
"It spreads like wildfire. I've seen a 50-acre field just plowed under because they couldn't get a single tomato out of them. There are so many whiteflies down there in that subtropical region, you really can never completely eliminate whiteflies. You can't do it." Dr. Kevin Crosby
The researcher said tomato plants as young as three weeks old can be infected by the whiteflies, causing leaves to curl and turn yellow, ultimately killing the entire plant.
Tomato processing in the Rio Grande Valley pulled the plug rather than fight the prolific fly, industry officials said.
"Whiteflies just devastated the tomato industry here," said Buddy Ault, owner of Rio Valley Canning Co. in Donna. "At one time the Rio Grande Valley was producing about 40,000 acres of tomatoes until the whitefly came along. Acreage plunged. Then, about five years ago we noticed that plants were dying just when the fruit was about to mature. The leaves turned yellow and cut off nutrients to the fruit, causing tomatoes to stay green on the inside."
Growers first blamed the whitefly, then realized a virus carried by whitefly was to blame, Ault said."So, we asked Texas AgriLife Research about the possibility of developing an open-pollinated, virus-resistant variety," he said.
"Dr. Paul Leeper, who was a scientist at (AgriLife Research in) Weslaco for decades, did a lot of the early work on hot climate, processing tomatoes. As a result, he built a lot of very good varieties for the industry. In fact, his tomatoes at one point were the most popular tomatoes in tropical places because they could tolerate the heat," Crosby noted. "But we found out that they could not tolerate the new viruses that have been brought in by the whitefly."
Crosby called upon colleagues in Florida and Taiwan, who had identified tomato genes that provide resistance to the viral disease, in seeking plants to cross with the Texas varieties. He got a supply to test from Dr. Peter Hansen at the World Vegetable Research and Development Center in Taiwan, as well as from Dr. Jay Scott, a world-famous tomato breeder at the University of Florida.
"We were able to cross those lines with our Weslaco lines and generate material that was adapted to Texas and that had good processing qualities," Crosby said.
For now, the new variety called T-5 is being tested by some producers in the Rio Grande Valley and Crosby said the results are promising.
"Because it combines two distinct virus-resistance genes, resistance has been outstanding," he said.
"The new variety is impressive," said Ault, whose company cans a mixture of diced tomatoes and green peppers for H-E-B's Hill Country Fare label.
"We like the T-5 very much," he said. "It is highly productive, has good flavor, good color and is virus resistant. What we don't like about it is that it is an indeterminate variety, meaning not all the fruit sets and matures on the plant at the same time. As a processor, we prefer one that sets fruit all at the same time. But considering we had little to work with prior to the T-5, we're optimistic Dr. Crosby's good work will prevail."
Crosby plans to continue the virus-resistance research for the fresh tomato types and to develop varieties suited for growing in the different climate across the state.
"Growers of fresh market tomatoes are interested in our work because there's little to nothing in the vine-ripe class or heirloom-type cultivars, which are well-adapted to the heat and have the virus resistance," Crosby said.
Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
Filling intercropping info gap
16.11.2017 | American Society of Agronomy
Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses