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Tomato Virus Could Threaten State Crops

California agriculture officials have discovered a potentially devastating tomato virus in an Imperial County greenhouse. They're worried the disease will infect tomatoes in the rest of the state. KP

California agriculture officials have discovered a potentially devastating tomato virus in an Imperial County greenhouse.  They're worried the disease will infect tomatoes in the rest of the state. KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson has details.

Tomato yellow leaf curl virus is already established in Florida, Georgia and Central America.  Agricultural officials hope to keep the disease from getting a foothold here. The virus attacks tomato plants and keeps them from bearing fruit.  UC Davis researcher Bob Gilbertson says there are ways to fight an outbreak, but it would be costly.

Bob Gilbertson: If this virus were to get established here and that's a big if, this would be one way that we could minimize the problem by going to these resistant varieties and by breeding varieties that are better suited for our conditions.

The white flies that spread the disease are native to the San Diego region. A local outbreak would mostly hurt backyard tomatoes.  Most of the state's commercial tomato crop is grown in the Central Valley. Erik Anderson, KPBS News.