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2012 Tomato Late Blight confirmed in Onondaga County

By WKTV News

Officials with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Oriskany say that a late tomato blight has been confirmed in Onondaga County.

Late blight is a highly contagious air borne disease that caused the Great Potato Famine in the 1800's and wiped out much of 2009's tomato crop.

The cool, damp weather that we had that year provided the perfect environment for the disease to take hold and spread quickly. Late blight does not survive in the soil. It can however, overwinter on diseased potatoes that may have been left in the ground or fresh spores can stick to clothing, hands, or tools.

Large quarter size spots may appear on the leaves or the stems. Infected plants may look fine one day and be dead three days later. Once the disease takes hold there is no cure. To prevent infection, start spraying with fungicides containing the chemical CHLOROTHALONIL. Follow the manufacturer's suggestions for rates and frequency. Unfortunately organic products containing copper have not proven to be highly effective against Late Blight.

If you do have Late Blight immediate attention is required. To prevent the spread of the disease all plants and tomatoes should be bagged and sent to the landfill. Do not compost and do not burn. That would release the spores into the air causing greater contamination (spores can travel several miles via the wind).

If you suspect you have Late Blight do not take infected plant parts to local nurseries as this may contaminate their crops. Instead place infected plant parts in a sealed plastic bag and bring them to the Oneida County Cooperative Extension, 121 Second St. Oriskany, NY 13424.

To see where Tomato Blight has been found look at this link: www.usablight.org

Have more tomato blight questions? Visit the Home & Garden section of Cornell Cooperative Extension's website under fact sheets on vegetables.

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