Late blight of tomato, caused by Phytophthora infestans, is knocking on the doors of our state border. On Thursday, June 20th 2013, the clinic received pictures from an extension agent of what appears to be classic symptoms of late blight on potato from Watauga County, NC. The clinic has yet to receive a physical sample for confirmation. Given the fact that this disease has been confirmed in MD, VA, WV, TN and possibly KY, in addition to the recent wet and cool weather that is conducive for the pathogen’s growth and spread, we are concerned the disease will be soon arriving to NC, if it’s not already here. Without proper preventative measures, late blight can completely defoliate and destroy a crop within one to two weeks. The disease can be severe on tomatoes grown in the mountains of North Carolina, as well as in late plantings in the piedmont.
For more information about tomato late blight and how to control it see a tomato late blight factsheet produced by Dr. Kelly Ivors at the Department of Plant Pathology. Control recommendations are also available in the USAblight website, where you can also register to receive text and/or email alerts when new disease outbreaks are reported.