Worms and Flowers

Big Box Stores Blight the Country

Posted in News by Lzyjo on July 21, 2009

I’m not talking about parking problems and increased traffic, I am talking about late blight being spread across the country by infected tomato plants sold a nation-wide retailers.

Professor of Plant Pathology at Cornell University, Meg McGrath called blight, “worse than the Bubonic Plague for plants.”

Blight is well-known for causing the infamous Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s. Despite its reputation as a potato-killer, tomatoes are actually more susceptible to the fast-moving fungal condition.

Scientists monitoring the advance of the fungal disease report this year’s infection has started earlier and has been more severe than years past.

We all know, this spring and summer has been unusually wet and cool, providing the perfect conditions for blight.

Right now infections have been found is almost all of the Eastern states, excluding, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and West Virginia.

The New York Times reported that Alabama-based Bonnie Plants recalled all of its remaining tomato plants on June 26. Bonnie, known for their peat pots, distributes their plants to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s from more than 60 greenhouses in 38 states .

The disease moves so fast, there are reports of entire fields of tomatoes dying over a weekend. Farmers are already talking about the price of tomatoes doubling from the squelched supply.

More articles on the Blight situation:

Associated Press “Plant disease hits eastern US veggies early, hard”

Albany Times Union “Blight like a nuclear bomb”

Albany Times Union “Big-box blight hits tomatoes”

New York Times “Outbreak of Fungus Threatens Tomato Crop”

8 Responses

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  1. Lola said, on July 21, 2009 at 12:30 PM

    I wondered what was happening. I have a couple mater plants that look funny & haven’t produced any fruit at all. I will have to start trying the heirloom type for sure. If I can find the seeds.

    I think it helped to decrease the yields on my potatoes. I didn’t realize until now what was happening. My tomatoes also also looking funny, and they’re losing a lot of leaves, but not dead, yet! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. tina said, on July 21, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    Bummer! I hope my tomatoes don’t get it or have it.

    Me too! For you and myself, as well. I know my tomatoes have something, I don’t think it’s this though. They’re susceptible to so many things! Good thing they grow like weeds most of the time. My amish pastes are getting tall! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Daphne Gould said, on July 21, 2009 at 3:38 PM

    I’m just hoping right now that it doesn’t take out my plants. Massachusetts has certainly been hard hit. I am pretty isolated in the trees on the top of a hill, but those spores can go pretty far.

    I hope it doesn’t hit you! But this the weather you’ve been having it’s hard to say. Hopefully the worm tea and all that is making the plants stronger! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Cynthia said, on July 21, 2009 at 6:38 PM

    Interesting and troublesome. I hope it gets under control soon. I can imagine it will have a big effect on the tomato market.

    Hopefully our home garden’s will be spared and we won’t have to worry about the astronomical prices! Thanks for stopping by, Cynthia.

  5. Jen said, on July 21, 2009 at 9:33 PM

    We definitely got it here. I’m thinking I need to do something preventative. Like Daphne, I’m up on a hill, so maybe that’s what’s kept me safe til now. So sad though – friends have had to take out half their gardens or more. Hope you stay fungus free!

    Me too! My tomatoes have something, but I’m pretty sure it’s not blight, they would be dead by now. So sorry to hear about your friends garden. What can you do, besides drenching the garden with fungicide. Yuk!

  6. gail said, on July 22, 2009 at 7:32 AM

    Terrible news….g

    Gail, it’s so sinister. I fear for my tomatoes!

  7. inadvertentfarmer said, on July 22, 2009 at 10:01 AM

    Because of the wet weather in the spring I always keep my tomatoes under plastic tunnels also I’ve been starting my own plants from seed…so far no problems. That is too bad about so many facing blight, I hope it doesn’t discourage too many newbie gardeners.

    Great post, Kim

    Bonnie’s response was less than helpful, they say, “hey, our plants are not responsible for this fungus that has been around forever.” I just wish they would face the problem responsibly. I grow from seed too, I’m just worried becuase it’s so fast moving! I’m glad your tomatoes are okay too!

  8. Faith said, on July 22, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    I read about that. Bad news. I grow from seed, but hopefully no seed stock that I buy from will be contaminated.

    I tell you, today’s weirdness can get you, coming or going. :/


    The too much weirdness, that for sure. Its pretty scary to think that sudden death for tomatoes is being shipped around the country to every Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Just the fact that they distribute to all three, hardly a hole in their coverage! I hope nothing drifts over form your neighbors, or who ever, or where ever it comes from. Healthy and happiness to the tomatoes!

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