This summer’s wet, mild weather made the perfect conditions for late blight in tomato plants.
Late blight on tomatoes was found in LaRue and Laurel counties and could be more widespread, according to University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. The disease causes leaves to wither quickly and die. It can affect the whole plant or begin at the top or bottom and spread.
LaRue County Extension Agent David Harrison said the infected plants were found on Old Sonora Road.
"The fruit was covered in mold,"’ he said. "The owner is going to destroy the plants."
Harrison said the condition is similar to blue mold in tobacco, which also has been detected in the state.
Late blight is found rarely in Kentucky, according to Kenny Seebold, extension plant pathologist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. When the disease is present in the state, it usually occurs later in the growing season.
It’s unknown how the disease came into the state, although it is widespread in the northeastern states this season. The disease there was traced to a transplant supplier.
Harrison said gardeners should check their plants and consider applying preventive applications of fungicides. The Extension Service suggests products containing either chlorothalonil or mancozeb.
“These fungicides will function well, unless we hit long periods of late blight-favorable weather, or if the disease is active in a field. In these cases, we’ll need something stronger,” Seebold said.
Harrison said he’s not “particularly concerned” yet about the disease.
“It seems like we always have a lot of tomatoes no matter what happens,” he said, adding that tomatoes are susceptible to a variety of wilting diseases and nutritional deficiencies.
If you suspect blight and would like a confirmation, contact the Extension Service at 358-3401.