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Story in Brief

Silverleaf whitefly (SLWF) has been a sporadic but potentially severe pest in south Georgia since the early 1990s. Intense vegetable production and row crop production in the area provides silverleaf whiteflies host plants on which to reproduce almost year around. These production systems, along with mild winter conditions, allowed the silverleaf whitefly population to build early in the 2020 growing season. The Worth County Extension agent visited with UGA entomologists about the early observations of whiteflies. Good communication with a local crop consultant on his early detection of treatable levels of SLWF in cotton allowed the agent to send an early warning to cotton growers, scouts, and ag dealers throughout the county using multiple communications methods to reach growers. SLWF-infested acres have the potential of 200 pounds per acre of cotton loss if left untreated. Approximately 80 percent of the near 60,000 acres of cotton in Worth County were infested with SLWF. If only half of the infested acres were treated, the potential gains in cotton yield for Worth County growers would be around $3.36 million. Cotton producers who followed UGA Extension recommendations and preserved potential yield were able to maximize field production and increase returns per acre.