ALBERTA: WATCH OUT FOR LATE BLIGHT

Published online: Aug 21, 2013 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting, Fungicide, Seed Potatoes PotatoPro.com
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Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development warns Alberta growers and gardeners for the risk of late blight.

Late blight is one of the most serious diseases of potatoes and tomatoes worldwide, resulting in significant yield and quality losses annually. In Alberta, late blight occurs infrequently but can have devastating impacts in the years when it reaches epidemic levels.

Late blight is not a problem now but it could occur in southern Alberta based on the humidity, rain and hail in the recent past. Addressing the problem quickly is important.

"If all of a sudden you have a tomato plant or a potato plant that's just turning brownish and dying and it's got a lot of lesions on the plant, it may be a possibility," said Terence Hochstein, executive director of the Taber Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA).

As far as the PGA is concerned, Hochstein noted, late blight is a community disease.

"It can affect all the growers, it can affect the gardeners-everybody. We're trying to make an awareness campaign, if you do have problems, ask questions," said Hochstein, adding the research station in Lethbridge will do testing if local growers and gardeners are concerned.

"It affects your garden, my garden-anybody that's got tomatoes or potatoes. It will affect them as much as the people that grow potatoes for a living," said Hochstein.

Late blight is found in most potato and vegetable-growing regions of Canada and North America.

Major outbreaks occur occasionally in Alberta. The last major outbreak of late blight in Alberta was in 1993.

In 2010, there were widespread reports of late blight in potatoes and tomatoes across southern and central Alberta, with many urban or residential plantings and market garden crops damaged or destroyed.

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