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Jul 282009

From Green Right Now Reports:

Bonnie Plants, which recently removed more than $1 million in tomato plants from retail nurseries in the Northeast, reported in a statement this week that the move was preventative and aimed at curtailing the spread of Late Blight.

The recall should not be taken as an indication that its plants were responsible for the blight that is threatening tomatoes and potatoes in the region, the company said.

The first reports of tomato blight in the Northeast came in late June, yet even two weeks later on July 7 government inspectors had not detected any blight among plants being cultivated by any of Bonnie’s 61 growers, Bonnie reported.

However, on that same day, five Bonnie tomato plants in a New Berlin NY greenhouse tested positive for the disease, eventually triggering Bonnie to recall tomato seedlings from stores in several states. Bonnie also took steps to spare that facility any further spread, according to the company news release.

The timing of the recall — coming just as the public was becoming aware of the blight — made it appear that Bonnie plants were somehow to blame. But, the well-known garden supplier maintains that its infected plants were more likely the victims of the blight, which had already been found in commercial fields.

Even though Bonnie could not be “justifiably targeted as the source for the recent Northeastern occurrence of Late Blight” it has “proactively, aggressively and responsibly” continued to monitor greenhouses, the release emphasized.

The recall of Bonnie plants has been reported in numerous news reports because the blight is so much worse this year than typically. It threatens the food supply of tomatoes, the livelihood of commercial growers and the success of home gardens, which are becoming more popular.

Dennis Thomas, general manager of Alabama-based Bonnie notes in the news release that Late Blight arises when the weather is cool and wet and there are host plants (tomatoes, potatoes and petunias) available.

Late Blight jumps from plants easily. Experts advise home growers to bag and dispose of any plants showing signs of Late Blight to rid the garden of the contagion.

For more information, see our story, Tomato plants going South up North, which includes links to websites that can help tomato cultivators identify blight and other diseases.