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New York State growers warned of late blight

 Late blight (Phytophthora Infestans) on potato leaf

A potato leaf affected by Late blight (Phytophthora Infestans)

July 5, 2012
Home gardeners and commercial growers are alerted of the potential introduction of late blight this growing season, as it has been confirmed in Suffolk County. 
 
“To help protect the State’s potato and tomato crops, the Department has once again initiated a concerted strategy to enhance the State’s detection and eradication efforts for late blight this growing season,” State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine said.  “While the recent hot and dry weather patterns should reduce the spread of this plant disease, commercial growers and gardeners should always be on the lookout and take the recommended precautions to protect their plants.” 
 
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has trained horticultural inspectors that are currently surveying plants, in particular transplant tomatoes, at the retail level and in commercial greenhouses.  Collectively, they have inspected more than 1,600,000 tomato plants and seen no signs of late blight detected in tomatoes.  In addition, the Department continues to work with Cornell Cooperative Extension to conduct outreach and follow up in the field with both growers and gardeners.  As a result of those efforts, three cases of late blight in field potatoes have been confirmed in Suffolk County.

Late blight (Phytophthora Infestans) in Potato and Tomato;Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications

New York has battled strains of late blight in 2009 and 2011 that were particularly devastating to tomatoes.  Presence of the disease, combined with wet weather those years led to a quick and devastating spread of the disease.  Organic growers struggled with the disease as they have few approved control measures to use, and commercial tomato growers were challenged to apply crop fungicides in time to prevent the outbreak.
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Cornell University is a private University located in New York State. The University has several research programs related to potatoes, in particular regarding potato diseases and variety development.