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Stop the rot: Gardeners can ward off blight with new cultivars

Late blight is likely to hit Wisconsin again this year, but the University of Wisconsin Extension plant pathologist Amanda Gevens says that there are some new cultivars available which are resistant to the disease.

Late blight is a fungus that mainly infects potatoes and tomatoes and can decimate the crop. Gevens says fortunately there are now late blight-resistant cultivars of tomatoes commercially available.

"We have a plum tomato variety, and a campari type, and a slicer type that do have late blight resistance bred into them, and that resistance -- if farmers and gardeners are looking for it -- is described as pH resistance," she said. "What they should look for is pH-2 and pH-3"

Those are two genes that are related to late blight resistance. Gevens says the new tomatoes are currently available only in seed, but she expects transplants will hit the market at some point. There aren't late blight-resistant potatoes on the market yet; however, Gevens says that commercial growers are pretty vigilant and have had good success managing the disease with fungicides.

The new late blight-resistant tomato cultivars are "Mountain Magic," "Defiant" and "Plum Regal."

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