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Plant Virus Found in Yuma Lettuce Fields

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Victor Calderón/KAWC
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A relatively common plant virus, known to infect over 600 species of plants has been found for the first time in some Yuma area lettuce fields. 

The virus is called Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus, or INSV and was found locally in early March, said Yuma Grower John Boelts, from Desert Premium Farms and 1st Vice President of the Arizona Farm Bureau. 

 

The plant virus showed up on the radar of local growers after the disease caused problems for growers in Salinas California last summer, said Boelts. However, Boelts says it is a relatively common virus and a lot is known about it. 

 

"As for as how it impacts lettuce there were guys that lost upwards of 90 percent of fields in Salinas, so it can have very devastating impacts," Boelts said. " It is a big deal, we've got aways to go with figuring out exactly how it's going to impact us." 

 

Salina's growers said the disease is spread by thrips according to Boelts. They are what's called the vector of the disease and to this point, there appear to be two ways to control the virus. 

 

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"One is to control the vector of the disease. And the other is to plant resistant varieties," said Boelts. 

 

So far nearly 40 fields in Yuma, Wellton, GIla Valley, and Tacna have the virus. But while areas of infestation must be removed the entire field does not need to be plowed under. 

 

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