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Extension advice: Get outside and check on the health of your plants
Richard Evans
Richard Evans is UGA Extension Service agent in Bryan County.

We find ourselves in a time of confusion and doubt regarding an outbreak of a virus. Many of us are hunkered down at home waiting for the status quo to be returned to normal and our lives to continue as usual.

While there are a lot of things to do during a time like this, one thing you can do is stay active and spend time outdoors.

Maybe convince the family to pull themselves away from electronics and enjoy nature during a time of unknowns. The weather is becoming quite nice and the time for building an ark might be postponed for a few weeks. While you are outside working in your yard and garden take some time to check on the health of your plants.

It turns out that plants can be affected by pathogens like a virus too, not just humans and animals.

Often times you can identify what is going on physiologically with plants based off visual cues.

Virus symptoms are often quite striking and distinctive. Chlorotic mottling, ringspots and line patterns on the foliage or stems may sometimes be quite visible. Stunting is also commonly observed.

Some examples of viruses your plants can contract include leaf curl, leaf crumple, tomato chlorosis, and tomato spotted wilt viruses.You might be wondering how can I combat or treat these issues if they occur? Most viruses are vectored (transferred) to a plant host by an insect. 

One of the most common insects to vector viral pathogens to plant hosts are whiteflies. Mites and aphids can also vector or transfer diseases. It is important to scout plants regularly for the presence of insects and viral symptoms. Test symptomatic plants for virus diseases to have definitive diagnoses of specific virus problems. Samples may be sent to a diagnostic laboratory or commercial virus-testing company, we can handle such tests here at UGA.

Furthermore, you want to maintain strict weed control in areas where viruses can be transferred.

You have probably heard the adage the best defense is a good offense. Go on the offensive by controlling insect pests on susceptible plants.

Once a plant has a virus there is usually no safe way to save it and it only serves as a potential reservoir for other plants to receive the virus through other insects.

As you encounter problems with flowers, shrubs, trees, or other plants reach out to me here at the Bryan County Extension Service. We will remain open during this time and I personally will look forward to helping solve problems that may arise. UGA Extension can help solve most any problem, you only need to ask.

Remember to stay active and stay calm during these trying times, it will all be over before we know it.

Hopefully in the meantime nature will provide a much-needed respite from the stresses of our society. Please contact the Bryan County Extension Service at or by phone at 912-653-2231 with any questions you might have.

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