By 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?