Thursday, September 04, 2014

Late blight strain concern for Prince Edward Island potato farmers

Gary Linkletter, chair of the P.E.I. potato board, calls this strain of blight aggressive

CBC News Posted: Sep 03, 2014 6:44 PM AT Last Updated: Sep 03, 2014 6:44 PM AT
The number of cases of a devastating potato fungus continues to grow on Prince Edward Island.
So far, 13 cases of late blight have been confirmed in some potato fields in Freetown, Breadalbane, Summerside, Spring Valley, Wilmot Valley, New Haven, Knutsford and Kensington. It has also been confirmed in tomato plants in the Charlottetown and Brookfield areas.
Late blight is a serious fungus that can affect a number of crops, but potatoes and tomatoes in particular.
Gary Linkletter is chair of the P.E.I. potato board and calls this strain of blight an aggressive one.
“The windy, damp weather has been great for blight conditions so there is a bit more than we like to see,” he said. “I would think there's been quite a few more cases. I know we reported our first one to the lab here on our farm and we've had two or three other fields show up since then.”
Producers see costs impact bottom line
Linkletter said extra measures are needed to deal with late blight, such as using more expensive sprays, increasing the spray schedule and top killing areas affected. That’s bad news for producers who will see those costs impacted on their bottom line.
Late blight was a factor in the Irish potato famine in the 1850s and can survive from season to season. Linkletter says it’s a major concern.
“There is no cure for blight,” he explained. “All we can do is try to control it. Both for tomatoes and home gardens and potatoes in commercial potato fields, so it's a serious problem for the rest of the season.”


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