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Late blight marching toward Langlade County
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Late blight, a destructive fungal-like disease caused by Phytophthora infestans, has been found in Portage County and is heading north.

According to Stephanie Plaster, University of Wisconsin-Extension agriculture agent, Langlade County is now considered to be at high risk for a late blight outbreak due to the presence of the pathogen in close proximity. This disease can kill plants and wipe out whole fields in a matter of weeks and is easily spread through the wind and rain. The additional cost to farmers to prevent and control late blight is measured in millions of dollars.

“Community members need to recognize the risk late blight poses to their own home gardens and our community,” Plaster said. “ It is especially important for Langlade County to prevent the spread of late blight since we are the number one seed potato producing county in the state and have many additional commercial potato and tomato farms which will be greatly impacted. Anyone who is not growing late blight resistant varieties is strongly urged to be on a five-day fungicide spray schedule using products containing either copper or chlorothalonil as an active ingredient.”

Plaster said symptoms of late blight can appear on the leaves, stems, tubers, and/or fruit. Lesions on leaves are gray-green to brown with a pale green border and may appear wet or oily looking. Under moist and humid conditions, a white fuzz containing spores may form on the bottom of an infected leaf or on the stem lesion.

“There is no cure for infected plants. Plants with late blight should be destroyed by removing vines and infected fruit.” Plaster said. “Do not save tomato or potatoes as seed for next season as this could spread the disease again next year.”

If you suspect late blight on your plants, bring the sample into the UW-Extension office at 837 Clermont St. for diagnosis free of charge, she said.
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A file photo of a potato sprayer, perhaps battling late blight.
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