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Late blight is early again this year

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picture of tomatoesHome gardeners who want their tomatoes to produce ripe, red fruit may want to be aware of the threat that late blight poses.

Late blight, a serious disease of tomatoes and potatoes, has been confirmed in North Carolina, according to N.C. State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic and faculty members Drs. Kelly Ivors and Lina Quesada-Ocampo of the Department of Plant Pathology.

Recent heavy rainfall, which favors the disease, has been a factor. “Given the recent rain and weather conditions and the fact that the disease is present in the state earlier than expected, the disease will be harder to control season-long and could quickly spread to other areas,” Ivors said in a recent pest alert. “Active scouting and immediate action to protect tomato and potato crops in North Carolina from late blight are recommended.”

The Department of Plant Pathology has developed the Extension Plant Pathology portal, which contains a pest news section to get the latest updated information on new pest alerts. The department adds new information as significant diseases show up.

Ivors’ and Quesada-Ocampo’s latest late blight advisory is at It includes links to information on managing the disease not only in crops but also in gardens.

Ivors and Quesada-Ocampo advise growers and gardeners to contact their county Cooperative Extension agent and send photos or physical samples (or both) to the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic if they suspect their potatoes or tomatoes have late blight.

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