Bhabesh Dutta, an Extension vegetable disease specialist at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Tifton, says Vidalia onions are the number-one vegetable crop in Georgia, which is why a considerable portion of his program focuses on bacterial disease management in this crop.
While he says there are approximately six bacterial diseases that affect Vidalia onions, there are some diseases that have stronger negative effects on the crop than others. One of these diseases that affects the onion crop more than others is center rot.
Dutta says he has spent extensive time researching center rot, which is vectored by thrips. His work involved determining how the insect acquired and transmitted the bacterial pathogen to healthy onions. He also researched how the center rot of onion bacteria survived on weeds in regions with Vidalia onions, as well as how different onion physiological stages impact bacterial infection.
Dutta is currently involved in a study to examine how to protect the most susceptible physiological growth stage of onion from this bacterium with antimicrobial compounds. He says this study is still ongoing, therefore results are undetermined.
In efforts to provide up-to-date information to the growers in an efficient manner, Dutta created the UGA vegetable blog. This is where he and other researchers upload content on issues such as disease and insect management for Georgia growers.
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