From Maine to Ohio, gardeners and growers are worried about late blight, a very contagious disease that infects members of the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, potatoes and sweet peppers.
Tomato plants infected with late blight were shipped by an Alabama company to large retail stores throughout the Northeast region of the country, from Ohio to Maine, reports Purdue University’s Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory.
This fungal-like disease, caused by the Phytophthora infestans organism, has not been confirmed in Indiana. So far this year, the disease has been confirmed on tomatoes plants sold in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
Although the disease is not uncommon in home gardens, it is rather unusual for tomatoes to be infected this early in the growing season, the Purdue lab says.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot home gardeners can do about this disease. Most gardeners pull infested plants from the garden.
Since there are many look-alike diseases on tomato leaves identification requires microscopic examination, not visual determination. Suspect samples may be submitted to the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab for confirmation.
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