George Millard knows how to grow tomatoes, but a fast acting disease has this fresh produce grower puzzled. " We've got about 3,000 plants. We probably lost maybe a 100," said Millard from his fresh produce business on the Woden Road. Millard suspects a fungus that's caused by all the rain East Texas has had.
Despite the fungus Millard still has a bumper crop of tomatoes. The majority of the plants are healthy, but Millard doesn't know if they'll be that way the next morning. Tall green plants stand tall, but right across the row are droopy, wilting plants that's been hit by the fungus. Millard said, " We're trying to get a diagnosis on them. It's wiping them out."
Extension agents are hearing the concern from other growers following every evening shower. Extension agent Chad Gulley holds a specimen of the wilting plants. " We're gonna send this to a lab to diagnose and find out what they actual fungus is. The roots are real hard when you cut into it."
Fungus can kill other plants too, like roses. Extension agent Crispin Skinner advised, " One of the best fungicides around is Captan. Mix it up and continuously spray." Millard is holding off on using sprays. He knows spraying with the wrong fungicide can be costly. Vegetable and fruit crops in Nacogdoches County bring in about 2.8 million dollars.