Late blight is affecting tomatoes, potatoes in WNY

late blight on tomatoes
Photo courtesy Edward Sikora, Auburn University, Bugwood.org

by Connie Oswald Stofko

All of Western New York is at risk for late blight, said Emily Reynolds, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua County.

Late blight was confirmed on tomato plants in Chautauqua County this weekend, she said, and the genotype is still being determined.

The first report in the state came from Erie County on July 10, according to a blog post on late blight published by the New York State IPM Program. (IPM is integrated pest management, an environmentally friendly approach to pest control that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties.)

Late blight is a devastating disease worldwide and led to the Irish potato famine in 1845. Under favorable weather conditions, tomato and potato crops can be destroyed within days. Because of our drought last year, no late blight was found in New York State, according to the New York State IPM Program, but our rainy summer this year has provided good conditions for the disease to thrive.

The post from the New York State IPM Program, “Got late blight in your garden? Here’s what to do,” contains helpful information for home gardeners.

A few important points from that post are:

  1. There are fungicides that can help, but you have to apply them before your plant is affected. Products available to home gardeners can’t cure existing infections.
  2. If you think you might already have late blight in your garden, check out the video Distinguishing Late Blight from Other Tomato and Potato Diseases . You can also take plant samples to the Cornell Cooperative Extension office in your area.
  3. While it might not be a big deal for you to lose a few tomato plants, it might be a huge problem for another gardener– or for a farmer! If you do have late blight, take steps so your plants don’t infect other plants. See a short video here on steps you should take.

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1 Comment on “Late blight is affecting tomatoes, potatoes in WNY

  1. I’ve been watching some of these videos on late blight. I get it regularly and it is devastating. I have potatoes nearby and hope they do not succumb. I see, according to one of the videos that I do everything wrong in growing my tomatoes I’ll have to change my tomato gardening ways. I often say “be ruthless”, but do not follow my own advice.

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