First Outbreak of Blight in Idaho From Canada

Published online: Jul 29, 2004
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It has been confirmed by the University of Idaho that the first outbreak of late blight in Idaho came through a lot of Canadian seed.

It was found in southern Bingham county. In the last two days two more fields have been confirmed with the disease. Researchers and fieldmen believe it is only the beginning of confirmations in the Bingham County area. It is not known if the three comfirmations are connected from the initial find. The strain of the late blight hasn't been determined either.

U of I researchers have advised those downwind (in the Upper Snake River Valley) to "spray, spray, spray." They caution growers that the fungus is in its mature stages which mean fields with the disease have been spreading spores.

Late afternoon thunderstorms and winds have been nearly a daily occurrence in eastern Idaho. It is the winds accompanying these weather events that are blamed as the single greatest culprit in spreading the disease.

This is occurring at the same time a Washington grower is trying to get damages caused from a Canadian seed grower for seed he bought for commercial production in 2003 that had bacterial ring rot.

The U.S. potato industry, especially attorney's for the Washington state grower, are trying to obtain Canadian Food Inspection Agency certification records from the lot of seed sold into Washington.

It is unknown if the grower in southern Bingham County will take any legal action. Late blight was first discovered in western Idaho about 8-9 years ago.

At stake here is the trustworthiness of the CFIA certification and inspection program. Several growers in Alberta have filed suit to have the CFIA records sealed because of the potential damage it could cause for the entire Canadian seed certification program and its seed industry.