Tomato plants pulled from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart

According to Home Channel News, “Home gardeners may end their tomato-growing season a little early this year, as a deadly pathogen that attacks tomato plants has been found in retail nurseries from Maine to the Carolinas. Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart have removed tomato plants from their shelves in several northeastern states, although many consumers may already have infected plants growing in their backyards.”

The poor people who wanted to grow their own this year may be without tomatoes. Bonnie Plants, the number one supplier of vegetables plants to the chain stores has found it’s stock affected with “Late Blight”. According to the article, “‘late blight,’ the pathogen is not a new disease, according to Meg McGrath, professor of plant pathology at Cornell University. The Irish potato famine of the 1840s was blamed on the same fungal infection.”

According to Dennis Thomas, general manager of Bonnie Plants, “‘You can’t blame any one vendor,’ Thomas said. This pathogen has been around forever. Other ‘host’ plants that carry the same pathogen — and can spread it to tomatoes — include potatoes, celery, petunias and a weed called bittersweet nightshade.”

According to Home channel News, “as a precaution, Bonnie Plants has removed all tomato plants from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart and K-mart stores in New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine. The grower operates on a consignment, or pay-by-scan arrangement with its big-box customers, so the company is responsible for the merchandise until it is sold.”

Dennis is right, it could happen to anyone. This is one reason why locally produced vegetable plants are a better choice. With larger operations like Bonnie, when something goes wrong, it goes wrong in a big way. Think of all the problems we have been having with food safety, and how many people it affects when material has been shipped around the country, and some pathogen shows up. Bonnie Plants did the right thing by calling in state inspectors and dealing with the problem head on. Never the less, as companies grow ever larger, the number of people they affect grows larger, too. Another reason why I believe Small is Cool.


About Trey Pitsenberger

Trey is a nurseryman, author, and speaker.

10. July 2009 by Trey Pitsenberger
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