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Late Blight Concern for Growers Again 

Wayne Harvey

After a difficult growing season last year, many gardeners were a little anxious with the warm spring and started their crops early this year.But growers need to be aware of the same problem that caused so many issues at this time last year, says Jim Dill of the UMaine Cooperative Extension. “In May we typically have a lot of wet weather, so if people get their crop in real early then you go into the typical May that we have, cool and wet that sets ourselves up for the possibility of a lot of disease problems and typically one of the diseases is late blight, it likes cool, wet weather.”And we had a lot of it last year, which is why Dill says so many tomato and potato plants were hit so hard last year. “We normally have late blight in Maine every single year, we have it in commercial potatoes, you get it a little bit in backyard potatoes and tomatoes. Last year the strain that came in just happened to be a very virulent one on tomatoes and it just wiped out everybody’s tomatoes.”If you were hit by the disease last year and just let your garden go, in most cases you should be fine this year with your tomatoes, but there is a chance it stayed in the potatoes so Dill says you should still be safe and start fresh this year. But everyone should be aware of what it looks like.”The upper side of the leaf is kind of either looks water soaked or is progressing far enough, water soaked with a black center to it. You flip that leaf over and the underside of the leaf you’ll find this white fuzzy mycelium which is where the fungal spores come from.”And since it’s here every year, this summer should be no different.”I’m hoping that we don’t get it on tomato plants like we did last year and then just spread it all around the state but my expectation will be that this summer we’ll probably get it from people who saved tubers from last year and are going to plant them again this year, especially from gardens that had Late Blight in it.”