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The 2009 Late Blight Pandemic in the Eastern United States – Causes and Results

March 2013 , Volume 97 , Number  3
Pages  296 - 306

W. E. Fry , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY ; M. T. McGrath , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY ; A. Seaman , Geneva, NY ; T. A. Zitter , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY ; A. McLeod , University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa ; G. Danies , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY ; I. M. Small , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY ; K. Myers , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY ; K. Everts , University of Maryland, Salisbury ; A. J. Gevens , University of Wisconsin, Madison ; B. K. Gugino , The Pennsylvania State University, University Park ; S. B. Johnson , University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Presque Isle ; H. Judelson , University of California, Riverside ; J. Ristaino , North Carolina State University, Raleigh ; P. Roberts , University of Florida, Immokalee ; G. Secor , North Dakota State University, Fargo ; K. Seebold , Jr. , University of Kentucky, Lexington ; K. Snover-Clift , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY ; A. Wyenandt , Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Bridgeton, NJ ; N. J. Grünwald , USDA-ARS, Horticultural Crops Research Unit ; and C. D. Smart , Cornell University, Geneva, NY

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The tomato late blight pandemic of 2009 made late blight into a household term in much of the eastern United States. Many home gardeners and many organic producers lost most if not all of their tomato crop, and their experiences were reported in the mainstream press. Some CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) could not provide tomatoes to their members. In response, many questions emerged: How did it happen? What was unusual about this event compared to previous late blight epidemics? What is the current situation in 2012 and what can be done? It's easiest to answer these questions, and to understand the recent epidemics of late blight, if one knows a bit of the history of the disease and the biology of the causal agent, Phytophthora infestans.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society