Sunday, July 19, 2009

Late Blight Fungus Threatens Tomato Crop in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic -

One of the scores of reasons NOT to buy plants from bigbox retailers like Lowes. Not only do they sell the unhealthy specimens of the wrong varieties and at the wrong time of the year, their plants often introduce new diseases and insects into the garden. I have seen Lowes sell rose bushes covered in anthracnose and fruit trees with fungus evident on the stems. Every once and a while, I'll buy, say, onion sets or a hibiscus from a retailer, but if it can be grown from seed or cutting, I'll take the time and save the money by doing it myself.
Late Blight Fungus Threatens Tomato Crop in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic - "Professor Fry, who is genetically tracking the blight, said the outbreak spread in part from the hundreds of thousands of tomato plants bought by home gardeners at Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Kmart stores starting in April. The wholesale gardening company Bonnie Plants, based in Alabama, had supplied most of the seedlings and recalled all remaining plants starting on June 26. Dennis Thomas, Bonnie Plants’ general manager, said five of the recalled plants showed signs of late blight.

“This pathogen did not come from our plants,” Mr. Thomas said on Wednesday. “This is something that has been around forever.”

Mr. Draper said the diseased seedlings, found in stores as far west as Ohio, were at least one source of the illness, but, he added, “It’s possible that we are looking at multiple epidemics.”

Mr. Mishanec said agricultural pathogens can easily spread when plants are distributed regionally and sold by big-box retailers.

“Farms are inspected, greenhouses are inspected,” he said, “but garden centers aren’t, and the people who work there aren’t trained to spot disease.”"

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