New blight strain worries potato farmers
Import could cross with existing strain to create dangerous blight varieties
P.E.I. potato farmers are being asked to be on high alert for any signs of blight, because a strain new to the Island appears to have been imported on some garden centre tomato plants.
Potato Board chair Gary Linkletter said blight has not been found in any commercial potato crops so far this season. Crop scouts met Tuesday to discuss concerns about what has been found on the garden centre tomatoes.
"There are different families of blight spores. We are concerned it's a different family than what we have here, and the two of them can get together and create genetic children, and there can be different resistance characteristics and things like that, different aggressiveness," said Linkletter.
"The strains may be ones that affect the tubers more than the plants. Crop scouts were discussing that we need to watch out for anything that does show up this year because it could be one that affects the tubers."
Some strains of blight attack mainly the leaves of the plants, while others can get into the potatoes themselves.
The Potato Board is asking farmers to take anything they find that looks suspicious to the Department of Agriculture for analysis.