Growers Warned On 'Wait and See'

Published online: Aug 04, 2004
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Idaho growers have been warned that the "wait-and-see" attitude toward late blight could cost them dearly.

Dr. Phil Nolte, University of Idaho potato specialist, said although only three sites--all in Bingham county--have had "positive" readings, the reality that more will be confirmed could be coming.

Nolte says there has already been one find of the easy-to-identify wilt in Cassia county and one in Minidoka county--both in southern Idaho.

But the bad news is that Nolte expects multiple fields--already suspected in southern and eastern Idaho--are infected. He estimates there are 20 or so fields in southern Idaho and 12-15 in eastern Idaho.

The weather has been conducive for spread of active sporulation. Nolte says the weather patterns this year are very similar to the patterns in 1997 when the state was last hit hard by late blight.

Nolte says the good news is that no fields north of Idaho Falls have been seen with the disease but the attitude is to wait and see.

Nolte says he knows fungicide applications are costly, but smart growers will not play the wait-and-see game. It is too big of a gamble and a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation.

He says there are viable remedies to handle the disease but he knows some growers will not sample because of the cost of fungicide applications. Also, if a find is confirmed there is a certain stigma of having an identification in their fields.

Nolte says to play it safe he would encourage growers to take samples to him so that the disease can be positively identified and handled. The lab is located at 1776 Science Center Drive in Idaho Falls.