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Knoxville — Blue mold disease has surfaced in East Tennessee tobacco fields. And a University of Tennessee plant pathologist said Friday that the disease seems to be moving west.

Darrell Hensley said East Tennessee’s wet weather has helped blue mold spread.

“Middle Tennessee has been very dry,” Hensley said, “which is not conducive to the spread of blue mold. In East Tennessee, we’ve had rainfall and cloudy days, which are ideal conditions for the disease.”

Hensley said tobacco farmers in northeast Tennessee have seen blue mold lesions on the top leaves of their tobacco plants, which will reduce the amount of tobacco leaf the farmers can sell.

But Hensley said the blue mold problem is not as bad as in past years.

“Last year, we had a lot of blue mold appear early in the growing season,” Hensley said, “when some infected tobacco plants were transplanted into Tennessee fields. This year, the mold appeared a little later in the growing season, which is better.”

Hensley said a period of hot, dry weather would help Tennessee tobacco farmers defend their crops against the spread of the mold.