Disease outbreak among potato crops could pinch some N.C. counties

The wet weather in North Carolina hasn’t only spoiled a few vacations, it’s also brought on an outbreak of late blight, a disease on potato crops.

Although potato crops make up less than 1 percent of the state’s commodities market, it can have an severe effect.

“Even though potatoes are considered a minor crop in this state, they still are worth quite a bit considering that commercial production is concentrated in only a few counties where they can be a major source of income,” says Barbara B. Shew, director of the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic at N.C. State University, who called the late blight outbreak “pretty significant.”

Potato crops in North Carolina have fluctuated from $25 million to $35 million dating back to 2008, while the total commodities market – meaning livestock, dairy, poultry and crops – increased to $10.5 billion in 2011.

Late blight is most commonly associated with the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, and the pathogen that causes it costs the global ag industry an estimated $6.2 billion per year, according to NCSU.

The North Carolina counties most affected this year include: Beaufort, Camden, Carteret, Currituck, Hyde, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Tyrrell and Washington counties.

Courtesy Triangle Biz Blogs.

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