Potato Blight hits New England

The email from my farm
this morning includes a warning that there have been
early signs in New England of a disease called “Late Blight”,
which is what caused the Irish Potato Famine. It includes
information about what to do if you notice things wrong with your
potatoes and tomatoes. You can read the whole article at The
University of Vermont Extension Site.

The symptoms that develop on tomato leaves, stems and fruit are quite dramatic, and are very obvious to the naked eye. The infected areas on leaves appear to be water-soaked, varying in size from a nickel up to a quarter, often beginning at leaf tips or edges. They proliferate when
the foliage has been exposed to watering, rainfall, or heavy overnight dews. If these infected areas dry out quickly, they may appear lime-green or beige in color.

The edge of the water-soaked area, either on the top or bottom of the leaf surface, will be covered with white fungal growth (mycelium) that contains the spore inoculum (visible with a hand lens). Spores are easily blown to surrounding areas and infect plants and even weed
species, in the plant family Solanaceae (the black nightshade family).

Brown to almost black lesions appear on infected stems, and the same lesions will develop on fruit, either directly on the infected plants, or a few days after they are sitting on your kitchen counters.

Please inspect your tomato and potato plants on a daily basis! If Late Blight symptoms are already appearing on plants in your garden, these plants should be removed immediately and put in a plastic bag for disposal. Don’t just put the removed plants in a compost pile as spores
will still spread from this debris. Your neighbors, not to mention commercial growers, will appreciate your taking this action immediately.

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