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- January 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009
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impact statement impact
- New York growers (conventional and organic) and countless home gardeners were made aware of the situation and what corrective steps were required. An indication of how effective the internet is for the delivery of important information was seen with the number of hits received on the VegMD website increasing to nearly 3.9 million for calendar year 2009, a 61% increase over the previous year. Description of the late blight disease, along with color images and control measures was largely responsible for this large increase in readership. Growers and gardeners were provided with accurate information in a timely fashion.
impact statement issue
- Late blight was found in the garden centers of all four big box stores in Ithaca, NY (Tompkins Co.) on June 23, 2009 on tomato transplants for sale to homeowners. A check of five other local retail sites in Tompkins County found all transplants to be healthy, suggesting a common source of infected plants at the big box stores. Plants at these stores were severely infected with the late blight pathogen responsible for the Irish Potato Famine. With disease favorable weather occurring throughout the Northeast, the likelihood of explosive disease spread was eminent.
impact statement response
- News of this impending disaster was conveyed to the public via news alerts on the Vegetable MD web site maintained in the Department of Plant Pathology in Ithaca (http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/) and by the Late Blight list server (email@example.com). These announcements alerted cooperative extension agents in New York and throughout the Northeast to survey their local big box stores for potential threats in their areas. Late blight infected plants were found in most retail locations, confirming that sale of infected plants was a widespread event.
impact statement summary
- Late blight caused by Phytophthora infestans infects both tomato and potato crops worldwide, and is responsible for major losses in both crops. Never before has late blight been introduced into such a wide area of the Northeast because of massive distribution from big box sale of infected tomato transplants. The public needed to be informed on this event because it affected every individual growing these crops, either commercially or for home garden enjoyment.
- Applied Research
- Zitter, Thomas A Cornell Faculty Member