March 16, 2014
Georgia's agriculture commissioner wants a disaster declaration for Georgia tobacco farmers.
Tommy Irvin says farmers may have lost up to 40 percent of their crop to drought and a rampant plant disease.
The disease, tomato spotted wilt virus, has also infected tobacco plants in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. But Georgia's outbreak is the worst.
Virginia Tech tobacco specialist David Reed says the disease is the worst ever in Virginia, wiping out up to one-fourth of the plants in some fields. Hardest hit are Dinwiddie and Brunswick counties.
Tomato spotted wilt, which is spread by small insects, also attacks other important Southern crops, such as cotton, peanuts and tomatoes. The plants shrivel and die. There is no cure.