Rishi Burlakoti is a plant pathologist at the Agassiz Research and Development Centre. He has been investigating Canada’s potato blight for three years. Late blight, caused by a water-based mold -Phytophthora infestans- is the same disease that caused the infamous Irish Potato Famine in the late 1840s. In the late 20th century, the disease has seen some major reoccurences.
In 2018, Burlakoti started working with other Canadian researchers to begin examining where the potato blight was being found in Canada. B.C. had blight in most of the home gardens Burlakoti visited and many of the commercial fields as well. Blight develops best in wet conditions, when the temperature stays between 15 C and 25 C.
“We found if it’s very dry and if there is less rain … the disease may not come,” Burlakoti told abbynews.com. “But in B.C., we found a lot of the disease here.”
Burlakoti’s research partners on the east coast have started to do some outreach to home gardeners about how they can combat late blight. He’s hoping to do the same in B.C. and said the best thing that gardeners can do is use plants that are resistant to late blight.
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