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Late blight hits potatoes in Alaska

 University of Alaska fairbanks
September 1, 2011
Late blight has shown up in the fields of two potato producers, in Palmer and Delta Junction. Alaska.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service is working with major potato producers to help prevent the spread of the blight, a fungus-like disease that was responsible for the Irish potato famine. The disease can rapidly kill plants in the field or cause potatoes to rot in storage. Late blight was discovered earlier this week in Palmer.

Extension agriculture and horticulture agent Steve Brown said the farmer has taken proper steps to prevent further spread. Late blight can be controlled through the use of fungicides. The Delta producer is also working to prevent infecting the rest of his fields or his neighbors’.

A hard frost and freezing temperatures will kill the disease. Delta has already experienced several light frosts.

late blight affected potato plants

Although late blight is common in the Lower 48 US States, it was first reported in Alaska in 1995 and there have been three subsequent outbreaks in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough region.

Jeff Smeenk, Extension horticulture specialist, said plant samples from both late blight sites will be examined to identify which type of late blight is involved. Conditions in Alaska this summer have favored the formation of blight. “This disease likes cool and wet,” he said.