Prince Edward Island’s Department of Agriculture has begun an education campaign to make sure gardeners understand the importance of growing blight-resistant varieties of tomatoes this spring.
In 2015, there was a similar education campaign after a new aggressive strain of late blight devastated tomato crops the summer before. The strain, called US 23, primarily attacks tomatoes. But it’s also a concern for the province’s billion-dollar potato industry.
There have been documented cases where late blight in potato fields was traced to nearby home gardens. Many people on P.E.I. have taken up gardening while spending more time at home under COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s all about being a good neighbour which Islanders are known for,” said Mary Kay Sonier of the P.E.I. Potato Board. Sonier said it’s not practical to ban older tomato varieties, so education is important.
“It’s like a lot of issues when you’re dealing with a large number of people, the enforcement is an issue and we prefer to approach it through encouragement and education to people. To learn about the disease and to know what they can do to protect their own garden and to protect the industry on P.E.I.”
P.E.I.’s Department of Agriculture is reaching out to garden centres across the Island to remind them about the campaign. Many of those garden centres already carry the tomatoes, including some which offer nothing but the blight-resistant varieties.