Gardeners enlisted to help billion-dollar potato industry

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P.E.I.’s home gardeners encouraged to plant blight-resistant tomatoes

Tomato seedlings

They may be talking tomatoes but they’re really talking big potatoes.

The Department of Agriculture and Forestry is asking gardeners to plant only tomato varieties with a proven resistance to a new strain of late blight. The department says this will help ensure a healthy crop and at the same time protect the province’s $1 billion potato industry.

Some of the outbreaks of late blight in commercial potato crops can be traced to gardens where spores from infected plants were carried by the wind.

 Gardeners should choose from several varieties known to be resistant to the late blight strain US-23. Resistant varieties exist in many size categories from large cherry, beefsteak and medium-sized tomatoes

Late blight is a disease caused by an organism that is closely related to algae. It affects potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and even petunias.

The organism produces white fuzz on the underside of leaves that releases millions of spores that float on the air to infect other plants. When the spores land on a susceptible leaf, they germinate and cause brown oily lesions. The spores splash on the ground and infect potato tubers, which become brown and rusty looking with a granular texture.

In addition to growing blight resistant varieties, gardeners can reduce the chance of a blight outbreak by:

- planting only certified seeds

- start tomatoes from seed inside;

- don’t grow potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant close together;

- water the soil, not the leaves;

- allow good air flow and plant in the full sun;

- destroy volunteer plants;

- watch for diseased plants and remove immediately

If a diseased plant is found, Gardeners are to put a plastic bag over the plant, pull it out of the ground, seal the bag, let it break down in the sun and then put it in the garbage.



Organizations: Department of Agriculture and Forestry

Geographic location: US

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Recent comments

  • Quiet Observer
    May 20, 2015 - 12:35

    Now there's intelligent comments - will not plant varieties in the garden that are blight resistant because potato farmers spray too much. So more blight will grow in my garden, spread to potato fields thereby causing farmers to have to spray more. THINK people.

  • fred
    May 20, 2015 - 11:24

    How touching ! But i don;t think my tomato plants are causing thousands of fish to die or contaminate peoples drinking water/ So bad that they can;t drink it .The dept. of agriculture is just a joke. All we need now is another big potato farmer as agricultural minister. This is like putting the monkey in charge of the zoo.

  • Gardener
    May 20, 2015 - 09:32

    Are potato farmers also planting blight resistant potatoes? Or do they continue on with their reckless habit of growing Russet Burbanks poisoning us all and imperilling our tomato harvest?

  • Mr Gardner
    May 20, 2015 - 09:32

    Yes I will get right on that. Just as quickly as they stop spraying anything that will harm me or my family.

    • Proud Farmer
      May 20, 2015 - 21:03

      Disgraceful , Do you have any idea how hard these people work ? Nor do you have any idea what the number one industry is on this Island . Realize how safe our food is compared to years ago. Farmers spray far less than ever because of better management. I've experienced blight in fields and not too far off is a infested garden where the disease had stemmed from. Then the farmer has too spend thousands of dollars to salvage crop. Let's all work together not against one another . PLEASE SUPPORT OUR FARMERS.