Saturday, July 11, 2009

Late Tomato Blight

I posted on this a little while ago but I found a picture of tomatoes suffering from the disease. If you are a backyard gardener and especially in the Northeast then you should be on the watch for trouble in the tomatoes and potatoes. Both plants are in the same family (nightshade) and suffer from the same diseases and pests. The rainy weather in the Northeast has been perfect for the spread of the disease and outbreaks are being found as far south as South Carolina but the Northeast is hardest hit. If you see symptoms of the disease you should contact your local extension agent. Late blight is the same fungal disease that wiped out potato crops in Ireland in the 1840s, leading to the infamous potato famine.

It appears that the plants sold by the big box stores are the source of the problem so if you bought your plants from Home Depot, Lowes, WalMart or the like then you might be at risk even more.

You can sometimes proactively prevent the disease on healthy plants organically with Neem oil but it requires diligence and spraying weekly.

Photo courtesy of Cornell University Department Of Plant Pathology And Plant-microbe Biology

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