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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina scientists say unusual reports of a tomato-killing fungus could be the result of an abnormally hot spring.

North Carolina State University researchers say a form of blight has been found on tomatoes in two eastern counties – Northampton and Sampson.

The variant “late blight” was found earlier than usual in the growing season. It can also infect vegetables. The fungus is best known for causing the Irish Potato Famine in the 1800s during which one million people died and one million more left Ireland.

Scientists say most commercial farmers are aware of the fungus, but local farmers and community gardeners might want to apply fungicides to their crops or consider early harvests. The scientists say another alternative is to grow genetically engineered, blight-resistant tomatoes.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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