Local farmers tackle late blight problem - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Local farmers tackle late blight problem

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A destructive fungal disease is affecting produce here in western Massachusetts.

The disease is known as late blight that's caused by a fungus-like organism and is now spreading through the Pioneer Valley. 

It destroys tomatoes and potatoes and is especially common in wet weather, which we've seen plenty of this year.

"It only takes a week to ten days to take down the entire tomato plant once it's been affected with the late blight disease," said Astarte Farm Manager Dan Pratt. 
Late blight is the same fungal disease that cased the potato famine in Ireland. That same disease has made it's way to Astarte Farm in Hadley. 
"We get roughly half of our income from our tomato crop every year, it looks as if we will lose three quarters of our crop this year so that's a major concern," said Pratt. 
He said that once a plant has late blight, there's nothing that can be done, although he assures that produce with it will cause no harm to consumers who eat it.
The decrease in the amount of healthy produce could cause prices to rise and local produce will be less available. 

Astarte Farm is hopeful their current crop will be successful, and that the late blight will not spread. 

Home gardeners can monitor late blight by looking out for brown leathery patches. It is non poisonous but will cosmetically alter the produce.

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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