New Virus Discovery Spreading Across Panhandle

Plant Pathologists are warning area farmers to take action after discovering a new wheat virus that destroyed many crops in the Panhandle region this year.

The Triticum Mosaic Virus is a disease that is carried by the wheat curl mite that prevents the plant from taking in water and causing it to die.

This season the virus was found across the entire Texas Panhandle but was not identified until it was too late.  Now farmers are being warned to start prevention early.

National Association of Wheat Growers President David Cleavinger says this past season was extremely difficult.

"Last year we got this in the wheat crop and due to the drought it had a bigger effect on the crop than it usually would have," says Cleavinger, "We saw these crops yellowing up early and we thought they were nitrogen deficient and put more nitrogen on it only to find out it was this virus and it was basically throwing money down a black hole."

And he says because the virus had not been discovered until recently it contributed to wiping out most of this year's crop.

A plant pathologist says to prevent the virus from spreading farmers should chemically destroy all volunteer wheat and try to detect the problem early.

If you would like your wheat tested contact the Texas A & M AgriLife Extension at (806) 677-5600.