BUFFALO, NY -- Farmers and home gardeners are being asked to check their tomato plants for disease.
Agriculture officials say the tomato disease, called Late Blight, is spreading across Erie County. It was initially found in the southern parts of the county but has now spread northward through at least South Wales, spreading through the air.
The disease kills the plant quickly. Dark lesions appear all over the plant and intensifies with wet weather. The disease usually starts at the top of the plant since it's a wind born disease.
Home gardeners can help slow the spread of the disease by destroying their tomato plants as soon as they become infected. "Take them out, bag them in plastic... discard those in the regular trash," Sharon Bachman, with the Erie County Cornell Cooperative Extension, said. "You don't want to put them in the compost pile where they can still... send on the infection to other growers."
The best way to kill the disease is to bag the infected plant in a plastic bag, seal it and let it sit out in the sun and bake first, then throw it away.
There have been other reports of Late Blight in Western New York this season, including Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming, and Allegany counties.
The infected tomatoes can be eaten, just wash and cut away the brown spots. Some of the green ones may ripen ok after being picked.
The Erie County Cornell Cooperative Extension asks local gardeners and farmers to keep them updated with diseases they see in their yards. The organization also holds various free lectures. The next one will be Saturday, September 14th from 10:00 to 11:00am and will cover organics management and composting.