5:11 pm
Fri August 7, 2009

Tomato disease reaches Western Ky.

Christian County – The University of Kentucky has confirmed, a disease that attacks tomatoes has traveled as far west as Logan and Christian counties. Late Blight disease is caused by the Phytophthora infestans organism, and is the same cause of the historic Irish potato famine. UK extension plant pathologist Dr. Kenny Seebold says that since the disease was first reported in Kentucky in early July, it spread quickly but concentrated primarily in the southeastern part of the state.

"Usually when a person sees the disease, it's just a matter of two or three days before the plants are completely, the leaves are completely burned off the plant. It takes the foliage out. It can actually kill the vines. And of course if it's wet enough the fungus can land on the fruit, and cause a lot of spotting and deformation of the fruit as well. So it's like a total loss when it comes in."

Seebold says Late Blight can move fairly long distances on air currents and it thrives in overcast conditions. He says the best way to control the spread of Late Blight is to is to maintain a regular fungicide schedule for tomatoes, and urges growers who suspect their crops might be infected to contact their local agricultural extension agents for help.