Posted on 20 July 2009 by tomatocasual.com

Irish Potato Famine Disease Hits Tomatoes in Northeastern States

blightBy Vanessa Richins

In 1845, Ireland was hit with late blight (caused by Phytophthora infestans), which killed much of the potato crops.

Since this was their main crop, a famine grew in the country.

It lasted for the next 6 years.

In the end, it is believed that about 1.5 million people died from starvation and 1 million people went to other countries.

Since tomatoes are in the same family (Solanaceae) as potatoes. it can also be affected by late blight.

2009 thus far has been one of the rainiest years in a while. The wet, cool conditions are perfect for the development of a fungus like Phytophthora infestans. This year

In the Northeast (from Ohio to Maine), reports have come in that plants infected by late blight have been found for sale in many of the retail chains. Since the spores can spread by wind, it can quickly spread to neighbors’ yards.

Check to see if you have late blight by looking at pictures on Rutger’s site. There will be water-soaked spots on the leaves, which will be edged with the white fungus. Brown or black patches will form on the stems and fruit.

If you find that some of your plants are infected with late blight, remove them immediately and destroy them. It can still spread if you place the plant in a compost pile, so place them in a bag in the trash instead. You can take out the infected parts of the fruit and use it if you like, since it is not harmful to people.

If you want to protect your tomato plants, you could use a chemical called chlorothalonil. You can only use it before the disease shows up.

It is very important to check your plants thoroughly if you live in the Northeastern United States. Infected plants need to be removed as soon as possible to contain the disease.

I hope that the disease can be controlled enough so that it won’t escalate and spread throughout the country.

Do your tomatoes have late blight?

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3 Responses to “Irish Potato Famine Disease Hits Tomatoes in Northeastern States”

  1. tomatocasual.com Stacy Says:

    I couldn’t get jalapeno peppers to sprout this year, so bought a plant from the local Target….the ONLY veg plant I’ve purchased this year. The resulting blight has thusfar killed 10 tomato plants and 8 pepper plants. *sigh* We’re in Central Florida, by the way.

  2. tomatocasual.com Irish Potato Blight Hits US Tomato Crop — Shining City Says:

    [...] No, really. No joke! This was learned via one of the gardening blogs I peruse. Yes, the same virus that caused the six-year Irish Potato Famine has struck our own tomato crops. Indeed, said blogger has actually found blight on her plants. [...]

  3. tomatocasual.com Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » Ah, Sure’n I Remember Growin’ Oop… Says:

    [...] Then?  Then came the Greet Tomato Bloight of ‘09: Yes, the same virus that caused the six-year Irish Potato Famine has struck our own tomato crops. Indeed, said blogger has actually found blight on her plants. [...]

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