Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Late Blight Alert!

A 29 June 2009 news release from Massachusetts Extension announces that Late Blight of potatoes and tomatoes, the blight that caused the famous Irish potato famine, has been found in several northeastern states. One possible source of the infection is plants from the company Bonnie Plants, that are sold in stores in the northeast and also here in Georgia.

I have two Better Boy tomatoes that are Bonnie Plants, so I will be watching them carefully (except for this weekend when I will be in Oklahoma with one of the boys, shooting off fireworks with a gazillion cousins).

Signs of infection include "small olive green or brown lesions on the upper surface of the foliage or the stems. Under moist conditions, there is a white, fuzzy growth on the underside of the leaves where the lesions occur, but the absence of this growth does not rule out late blight. Eventually the lesions turn black, leaves start to die, and then the entire plant dies."

Any diseased plant should not be composted or burned. Instead, it should be wrapped in plastic and sent to the landfill. I know, this isn't ecologically sound on so many levels, but it is a good way to avoid spreading the disease to nearby gardens and farms.

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