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     Late blight on a potato leaf
    Although late blight has been confirmed in 12% of Wisconsin’s counties, growers took aggressive action to control the disease and are predicting full yields and high quality potatoes of all varieties this season.

    “What I really dig about commercial growers in Wisconsin is how proactive they are in situations such as this,” said Dick Okray, secretary-treasurer of Okray Family Farms, Plover, Wisconsin.

    “They are out there in the fields with their boots on the ground and their eyes on the plants and when they see something, they take action.”

    Duane Maatz, president of the Wisconsin Potato Growers Association in Antigo, agreed. “The growers are very diligent about fungicides,” Maatz said. “I’m not aware of any issues with the blight. Our research team is way ahead of the curve and keeps our growers up to speed so they know when to take action.”

    One of the researchers who works closely with growers on control of late blight in both potatoes and tomatoes is assistant professor Amanda Gevens, a plant pathologist with the University of Wisconsin’s Extension Service. She was in the field Aug. 20 checking the blight situation.

    “We began seeing some in July in potatoes,” Gevens said. “But the growers have managed it well. It’s not uncommon for us to have it in this many counties in recent years. The growers are on the ball. It’s expensive to apply fungicides, but they know the devastating potential of the disease.”