Aroostook County potato farmers may need to rethink how they fend off late blight in the future.
Chlorothalonil, the pesticide of choice among Aroostook County potato farmers to control late blight since the 1970s, has recently been labeled a “likely human carcinogen” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has been banned in Europe. Farmers can make up to 20 applications of Chlorothalonil in a growing season.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension crop specialist Steven Johnson says there are newer pesticides out there that would be a good replacement. “I’ve been working on this for the last 10 years,” Johnson said. “We have a lot better and newer chemicals that have better and longer efficacy. Newer fungicides are used at a much lower rate and generally speaking are less toxic to people, aquatic life and non-target organisms.”