(Host) Vermont’s record-breaking wet spring is causing a new concern for home gardeners and commercial growers.
Agriculture officials say the plant disease known as ‘late blight’ is a potential threat to this season’s crops.
Late blight is a fungus-like disease that thrives in wet, cool weather. And it spreads quickly from plant to plant-primarily tomatoes and potatoes-causing them to wilt and die.
Tim Schmalz is the state plant pathologist. He says this year’s weather is reminiscent of 2009, when late blight destroyed many tomato crops.So he’s encouraging growers to watch for signs of the disease:
(Schmalz) "It looks like -almost like a bruised bit of tissue on a leaf or a stem. It’s darker green, typically, and if conditions are right it will very soon be surrounded by a white, fuzzy growth.And that white fuzz is the reproductive stage of the pathogen."
(Host)Schmalz says growers can use a fungicide to prevent infection from occurring. He says there are also organic products available that are effective, if they’re applied before the pathogen becomes established.
The Agency of Agriculture has been encouraging growers to get out and treat their crops. Schmalz says plants with signs of late blight should be removed. But he warns people to make sure their plants have late blight, and not some other problem.
(Schmalz) "Two years ago we had a lot of people who were throwing away plants that were symptomatic, but had other diseases. And it’s kind of a shame to destroy things out of hand without getting an accurate diagnosis."
Additional information about how to identify and treat the disease: