A most unwelcome visitor has come to settle down among us since my early July blog: the nasty disease that cause the Irish Potato Famine called Late Blight of Potatoe and Tomatoes (phytopthora infestans) showed up in our potatoes and tomato greenhouses. The early arrival of this disease is not only complicating life in our little world but wreaking untold damage to farmers in New England as well as New York State. Late blight will not survive freezing conditions so it works its way north on weather systems coming up from the south and makes its ususal appearance here in Late September or October. This year, it was introduced on tomato plants for retail sales that the big box stores brought up from down south. This disease is highly contagious and spreads in the wind once it sporolates. The box stores sold the plants region wide, gardeners took them home and innoculated the region. Add to the “perfect storm” that the weather has been perfect for the growing and spreading the disease (lots of cool damp evenings in the last month and Voila: instant epidemic.)
For us it is not the end of the world, we have a few more tricks in the bag (as well as different food sources) than did the Irish back in 1847, but it is causing some economic hardship and stress nonetheless. We quickly had it positively identified by our state plant pathologist at the University of New Hampshire and we immediately embarked upon a program of pruning and disposing of the badly infested plant material, and embarked upon the University Extension service recommended program for spraying fungicides. The prognosis is not great because the only real way to make the disease abate is to freeze it out, but we definitely have slowed the march of the disease down in hopes of salvaging a high percentage of what looked to be a great crop of both potatoes and tomatoes. We are living day to day, hoping for dry hot sunny weather to help us curb its spread. I hope I can tell you by the time I write the next blog that our efforts were not in vain.
Instead of talking about the ramifications of the global economy as I did in the blog 20 days ago, we are now having the dubious honor of being victmized by it.