Late Blight: Another reason to buy local

We are experiencing some whacky weather these past few weeks and although today is cool and clear, we New Englanders know better than to expect the temperate weather to stay! Below, Weir River Farm in Hingham, MA explains all you need to know about Late Blight, how the weather affects crops and why it is important for us to buy local.

We are experiencing some whacky weather these past few weeks and although today is cool and clear, we New Englanders know better than to expect the temperate weather to stay! Below, Weir River Farm in Hingham, MA explains all you need to know about Late Blight, how the weather affects crops and why it is important for us to buy local.

Weather reminiscent of 2009’s persistently rainy, cool spring makes farmers nervous. Back then, a fungal disease called Late Blight wiped out the majority of eastern Massachusetts’ organic tomato and potato crops.

Late Blight is caused by Phytophthora infestans and thrives in cool, windy, wet conditions. In 2009, a perfect combination of such weather and infected tomato transplants distributed from southern greenhouse growers to big box stores in the northeast created a devastating epidemic of Late Blight from Maryland to Maine. As home gardeners unknowingly purchased diseased seedlings, the spores flew miles and infected farms all over. Once such an outbreak occurred, it was almost impossible to stop – the best way to manage it for the future now is through preventive measures.

How can you help? The most effective way to prevent Late Blight and other imported diseases and pests is to buy local, healthy transplants raised from seed by nearby garden centers or farms. Or, start your own seedlings at home. In addition, learn to identify the Late Blight’s brownish, water-soaked lesions on tomato leaf and stems and call UMass Agricultural Extension if you notice anything odd. Spread the word about the importance of buying local!

You can find local seedlings, plus Farmer Amy and new Farmers Rae and Hilary at the Saturday Hingham Farmer’s Market starting in June. Consider joining our Market Member Program. It’s a great way to get a deal on the exact produce you want every week, while supporting your favorite local farm!

About eSS&SC

The South Shore and South Coast has been home to hunting, gathering, fishing, farming––and great eating––for over 10,000 years. We are committed to identifying, devouring, and sharing all that Southeastern Massachusetts has to offer today and preserving local options for future generations.
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