July 23rd, 2009
By Christopher Peake
Green Right Now
“Just the thought of tomato blight sends fear into the heart of every farmer.” Those are the words of organic farmer Charlie Reid, who operates two small farms in southeastern New Hampshire. “We’ve been lucky this year … so far,” says Reid. “Lots of farmers have had to pull (dig up and destroy) their entire tomato crops. But with all this rain and so little sun my luck could change (for the worse) overnight.”
Blight is a highly contagious fungus that hits both tomatoes and potatoes. The Potato Famine in Ireland in the late 19th century was caused by blight. And now blight is killing both tomato and potato crops in New England and in some mid-Atlantic states. It’s not yet an epidemic, but cause for concern for both farmers and consumers, as well as home garden growers who unwittingly used infected seedlings.