Potato growers are tightening up their fungicide application schedules now that late blight has been found in the province.

The disease had a fairly significant impact on last year's potato crop, as well as potatoes and tomatoes in home gardens. It was confirmed for the first time this year on a field in the Holland area on Tuesday.

"It's on an irrigated field that was protected by fungicides, however in the undergrowth, sometimes the fungicides don't reach, and because of the irrigation, high humidity, and probably some innoculum coming with thunderstorms, the spores reached areas underneath the canopy," explains Vikram Bisht, plant pathologist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.

He recommends potato growers in the central region switch to premium fungicide products with systemic activity.

"It's also a good time to remind our home gardeners with potatoes and tomatoes, that they should also, if possible, protect their crops with fungicide. Copper spray should be okay for them," he says.

Bisht says growers should be closely monitoring their fields.

"They need to now scout their fields more closely, especially in areas that are wind-protected. If they are spraying by aircraft some areas may not get the fungicide, say in corners or close to trees, so those areas may be slightly unprotected," he says. "One has to walk in and check the underside of the leaves."

Growers or gardeners who think they may have a late blight infection should contact their local MAFRI GO office.