TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A white-winged pest less than a millimeter long threatens to devastate Florida's $500 million tomato crop — more than half of which comes from Hillsborough and Manatee counties.
The Tampa Bay Times reports (http://bit.ly/2bAy7w3) that concern is so high for the already struggling industry, it could be a tipping point for the Florida tomato business.
Tomatoes are Florida's biggest vegetable crop, and the state leads the rest of the country in production of fresh tomatoes.
The pest is a rare strain of whitefly, an already dreaded creature for farmers since it can pick up a disease from one plant and then infect others nearby.
Researchers say the rare fly is resistant to the insecticides that farmers have used to kill common whiteflies for decades.
Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.