Late blight destroying crops throughout region

Amy Ivy of Clinton County Cooperative Extension said the disease is located in every county in the state and this is the first year it has manifested itself since 2000. It has caused huge problems for commercial growers, some losing 100 percent of their crop. Sweet corn and tomatoes tend to be the backbone of commercial farming, so the loss has been particularly devastating to them, according to Ivy. While it is on potatoes also, it is not as aggressive.

"Home gardeners should call this year a loss. I would encourage people to write off their tomato crop and to eat their potatoes," Ivy said.

Emily Selleck of Essex County Cooperative Extension stated that the disease has been spotted in Port Henry, Crown Point, Westport, Wilmington and Willsboro. There have not been many reports of commercial devastation reported to them. This year they know that the disease was carried in on the seeds.

There are a few things that you can do to control late blight. Use only certified seeds and while it is not a guarantee, the chances of survival are better. Ivy also encouraged using plant resistant varieties; Elba is currently the most resistant. If the growing season is particularly wet, as it is was year, late blight spores will be present and fungicides will be necessary, but they must be on the foliage before the spores land. Finally, Ivy said gardeners should scout plants carefully twice a week and more often during periods of wet weather. Those who find late blight should intensify fungal applications within label guidelines and if severe, destroy all diseased plants.

Ivy said the two pieces of good news are that the disease has not been around here since 2000 and it does not survive over the winter. For this year, Ivy recommended watching gardens carefully and treating plants accordingly.

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