Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ALERT: Late Blight in Franklin, Blair Counties - UPDATED

Late Blight Lesions on Tomato Leaf - Picture Courtesy of Cornell University
Penn State Extension issued an alert on June 4th that Late Blight has been confirmed on both potatoes and tomatoes in Franklin County, and on tomatoes in Blair county:
These are the first confirmed reports of late blight in Pennsylvania and on tomato in the region. There have also been several unconfirmed reports of late blight in commercial potato fields in central PA. We are in the process of confirming these reports.

Image Gallery here.

UPDATE: June 8, 2012
Yesterday late blight was confirmed in two commercial potato fields on nearby farms as well as in one tomato field on one of the same farms in Mifflin Co., PA. We are still working on identifying the source and characterizing the genotype (strain).
The last time Late Blight was discovered this early in the season was in 2009 when it caused widespread losses.

Late Blight is caused by the fungal pathogen Phytopthera infestans - the same pathogen that caused the 19th century Irish potato famine.

Home gardeners can learn more about the disease and what to do by reading this document and watching the video below.  Adopting a preventative program is important, not only to preserve your own tomatoes and potatoes, but also to prevent the spread of the disease elsewhere, including farmers whose livelihood depends on producing a healthy crop.  So, if you grow tomatoes or potatoes, be a good neighbor and good steward, and be proactive in taking preventative measures.

Here is a video by Penn State professor of plant pathology, Beth Gugino on Late Blight created as a result of the 2009 outbreak:

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