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 late blight alert

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Join date : 2009-04-30

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PostSubject: late blight alert   late blight alert EmptyFri Jul 03, 2009 1:56 pm

here's an article frm accuweather.com

Wet Weather Leading to Diseased Tomatoes, Other Plants
Updated: Friday, July 03, 2009 12:21 PM

By Meghan Evans

The earliest and most widespread case of a serious plant disease ever in the East is forcing the removal of tomato plants from stores in New York and New England. This infectious disease is called late blight, the same disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s. It does occur occasionally in the Northeast, but this year's rainy weather has accelerated the spores' airborne spread. On top of that, infected plants have been widely distributed by big-box retail stores.

According to the Associated Press, the disease is not harmful to humans, but it is quite contagious. It is most likely spread on garden center shelves to plants that were not involved in the initial infection. Once plants reach gardens, both home and commercial ones, the disease can also spread.

A big dip in the jet stream in the Northeast region has sent persistent rounds of showers and storms from the Great Lakes to New England and part of the mid-Atlantic in recent weeks. Conditions worsened this past week as strong disturbances squeezed out extra rain, extensive cloud cover and abnormally low temperatures.

An infected plant with late blight. (Photo courtesy of Foster's Daily Democrat)
New England has been hardest hit with Boston receiving nearly half of its normal July rainfall in the first two days of the month. Flooding and travel disruptions have been occurring throughout much of New England the past few days.

New York City had its second wettest June on record with just over 10 inches of rain falling.

After more locally drenching downpours into July Fourth, there will be a brief break from the extensive unsettled weather across most of New England on Sunday, but spotty showers or storms could still impact northern parts of the region.

Tomato plants have been removed from Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Kmart stores in all of New England and New York, the areas that have been the wettest. Other cases, although not as widespread as in New England, have been found in almost every other East Coast state with the exception of Georgia.

If this becomes a widespread problem with large crops and negatively impacts commercial growers, it could force prices of tomatoes and other vegetables to rise, so that growers can cover costs of treating the late blight.

The overall weather pattern in recent weeks also favors the formation of mold and "black spot" fungus on certain flowers and vegetable plants. The cloudy, cool, rainy weather is bad enough. However, when the rain falls during the evening, it fails to evaporate on the leaves, which in turn promotes the fungus. This is why the best time of the day to water is during the early morning when the weather is dry. This allows the moisture to get to the roots, while evaporating off the leaves before problems begin.
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