Oriskany, NY (WIBX) - Farmers and gardeners in Oneida County are being urged to monitor late blight, an annual plant disease affecting tomatoes and potatoes.

Late blight can be identified due to its white or brown spores. Large, quarter sized spots will appear on infected tomato plants and kill them quickly, sometimes in less than three days.

Once the disease is on tomato or potato plants, there is no cure. Lynette Kay, with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County, says the best option is to take preventative measures. To protect plants, she suggests gardeners use fungicides containing Chlorothalonil to prevent the fungus from attaching.

Those attempting to grow an organic garden will have less success, since organic products have not been as effective.

Kay says any infected plants should be taken to experts for confirmation.

"If people suspect that they have late blight, they should bring a sample in a sealed plastic bag, to the Cooperative Extension and we will take a look at it," Kay said. "Do not take it to a garden center, because there's a chance you will infect their crop."

Kay also says to never burn or compost infected tomato plants, because the wind can carry the  fungus' spores for miles. Spores can also transfer from tomato to potato plants, infecting them. If potatoes become infected, they must all be removed from the ground to prevent future problems.

Though confirmed in Onondaga County, late blight has not been seen in Oneida County yet.

For more information, visit the Oneida County CCE site here. To see where the disease has been confirmed, click here.

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