The Dirt Diva

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Be on the lookout for Late Blight


Hello again

I just received the following info from NOFA NY’s Fresh News and thought to pass it along…

Late blight update:  Late blight has been found in the Northeast.  Be vigilant!

Given the severe outbreak of late blight last year, it is highly likely that late blight inoculum is present around New York State.  Moreover, confirmed cases of late blight have now been reported from northwest Pennsylvania and southern Maryland.  It isn’t time to panic, but it is important to take several steps.  First, we should re-familiarize ourselves with the conditions that favor late blight, how it spreads, its symptoms on tomato and potato, and how to manage it.  Here are two useful websites:,  Second, we need to begin scouting for the disease.  Tomato and potato plantings should be checked at least weekly and more frequently in periods of weather that favor the disease (rainy conditions or mornings with heavy dew).  If you suspect late blight, it is essential to contact your local CCE office immediately to get help in determining whether the disease is actually present.  Third, we need to continue to do all that we can to minimize the risk of the disease.  This includes immediately digging up (tubers and all) any volunteer potato plants and destroying them or placing them in an airtight container in the trash.  For those that haven’t planted potatoes yet, be sure to check each tuber for disease symptoms before planting.  Planting potatoes and tomatoes so that there will be adequate airflow between rows during the season is also important.  For those who are purchasing transplants, buy from a local, reputable grower and inspect plants carefully at time of purchase and before actually transplanting.

It will take good weather and a certain amount of luck to escape late blight this year.  But by becoming vigilant now and instituting good, preventative management practices, we can lessen the risk of another outbreak.  Here’s hoping for a bountiful year for tomatoes and potatoes.

_Elizabeth Dyck, NOFA-NY

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