Destructive Plant Disease Found Along East Coast

Tomato plants have been removed from stores in half a dozen Northeast states as a destructive plant disease makes its earliest and most widespread appearance ever in the United States.

Late blight -- the same disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s -- occurs sporadically in the Northeast, but this year's outbreak is more severe because infected plants have been widely distributed by big-box retail stores and rainy weather has hastened the spores' airborne spread.

Plants have been removed from stores throughout New England and New York. Late blight also has been identified in all other East Coast states except Georgia, as well as Alabama, West Virginia and Ohio.

Symptoms include large olive-green or brown spots on the tops of leaves and white fungus underneath. Experts say home gardeners should destroy infected plants to prevent spores from spreading to commercial farms.


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