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Tomato blight hits northeast growers


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yow. just 2 weeks ago i put a sage plant from the same bonnie plants outfit mentioned in the article near the tomatoes in my vegetable patch. luckily we've had sunny, drought-like conditions ever since and the article suggests that kills late blight. i realize there's been no mention of late blight in minnesota yet, but i wonder if i should spray some fungicide to be on the safe side. thoughts?

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The NY Times has an article on a blight which is destroying tomatoes from MA to OH to Virginia. In some cases, entire fields have been plowed under. The impact has hit many home growers and well regarded establishments like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which lost half its crop

 

The impact of this blight is showing up in home gardens, in organic farms, and in market growers. One consequence is likely to be much higher prices.

 

 

A strain of the fungus was responsible for the Irish potato famine of the mid-19th century. The current outbreak is believed to have spread from plants in garden stores to backyard gardens and commercial fields. If it continues, there could be widespread destruction of tomato crops, especially organic ones, and higher prices at the market.

 

“Locally grown tomatoes normally get $15 to $20 a box” at wholesale, said John Mishanec, a pest management specialist at Cornell who has been visiting farms and organizing emergency growers’ meetings across upstate New York. “Some growers are talking about $40 boxes already.” Tomatoes on almost every farm in New York’s fertile “Black Dirt” region in the lower Hudson Valley, he said, have been affected.

 

Professor Fry, who is genetically tracking the blight, said the outbreak spread in part from the hundreds of thousands of tomato plants bought by home gardeners at Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Kmart stores starting in April. The wholesale gardening company Bonnie Plants, based in Alabama, had supplied most of the seedlings and recalled all remaining plants starting on June 26. Dennis Thomas, Bonnie Plants’ general manager, said five of the recalled plants showed signs of late blight.

 

“This pathogen did not come from our plants,” Mr. Thomas said on Wednesday. “This is something that has been around forever.”

 

Mr. Draper said the diseased seedlings, found in stores as far west as Ohio, were at least one source of the illness, but, he added, “It’s possible that we are looking at multiple epidemics.”

 

 

Tomato

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