Many farmers and gardeners in Maine saw late blight on their potatoes and tomatoes for the first time in 2009 and experienced firsthand the amount and speed of crop destruction that it can cause. Learn about the causes and how to recognize it in your garden.
Potato late blight is one of the most destructive foliar diseases on potatoes and has been reported for more than 150 years. Few plant diseases result in the widespread misery and despair produced by potato late blight. Potato late blight is caused by Phytophthora infestans; a fungus-like organism that overseasons in infected tubers, cull piles, and in infected volunteer plants.
Late blight control in Maine depends on proper application—timing, rate, and coverage—of protectant materials. The use of predictive models can permit late blight control with fewer, timelier chemical applications, which will help control costs and reduce chemical inputs to the environment.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office in Orono will look at any samples that you may suspect have been infected. Visit the Cooperative Extension Insect and Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab for instructions on how to send in a sample.