Friday, February 15, 2008

Tomato Blight Appears In Immokalee

Disease Can Devastate Vegetable Crops

IMMOKALEE, FL. -- Late blight has been found on tomato and potato plant in several locations around Fort Pierce and this week  Leon Lucas of Glades Crop Care has reported that late bight has been found near Immokalee on tomato plants.  This report was confirmed microscopically by the UF/IFAS Plant Disease Clinic in Immokalee.

At present, barring further reports from Southwest Florida, the find in Immokalee appears to be isolated to one location and limited in area. 

Given the fact that late blight is present in South Florida and the weather forecast for the next few days call for increased chance of showers and condition conducive to the spread of the disease, growers are advised to
increase scouting efforts and apply protectant fungicides, says Gene McAvoy of the Hendry Ag Extension Office in LaBelle.

Late blight is caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans, which is a pathogen of potato and tomato.  Very few vegetable diseases cause more concern to growers.  The disease can spread quickly and devastate a tomato  or potato field within a few weeks if not properly controlled said McAvoy.

Since the disease can spread so rapidly, McAvoy says growers should scout their fields thoroughly each day, especially when cool and wet conditions conducive to disease development prevails.

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