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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
Septoria Leaf Blight on Tomato
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Tomato Diseases

Posted by John Fulton -

It seems like the tomato is the one plant that just about everybody tries to grow. Some people grow large amounts, while others plant one or two in containers. At any rate, the calls and samples have started coming in to the office with the recent swings in weather. Most of the samples have spots, brown leaves, and dropping leaves, or all of the above. Several diseases hit tomatoes, but two of the more common ones are early blight and septoria leaf spot. Blossom end rot seems has also accelerated with the drier weather pattern returning, particularly plants grown in containers and hanging baskets.

As for what to do, here is the checklist: First, keep ripe fruits picked off the plants. Second, don't work around tomatoes when they are wet. Next, you can try and improve air circulation, but if your tomatoes are severely affected you won't want to lose any more leaves. And the final step for this year is to try a fungicide. Mancozeb is probably the recommended one, but it is very hard to find. The other options are Daconil and maneb, which are easier to find but probably won't give you as good of control. The final step for future years is to practice at least a three year rotation, with good sanitation in the garden.

Blossom end rot is a non-pathogenic disease that is very common during extended dry periods. It begins as light tan water-soaked lesion on the blossom end of the fruit. The lesions enlarge and turn black and leathery. This can drastically lower the yield and lower marketability of the fruits. Fluctuating soil moisture supply during the dry periods, and low calcium levels in the fruit are the major causal factors. Control of blossom end rot consists of providing adequate moisture from fruit formation to maturity, and use of mulch (grass clippings, plastic, straw, shredded newspapers, or plastic) to conserve moisture. The key is to provide even amounts of moisture – not soaked then dry.

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