Friday, October 21, 2011

Can I control Early Blight of Tomatoes?

Good Afternoon
I purchased two of your Mighty Red tomato plants about 2 weeks ago, as well as
two Apollo and two Grosse Lisse from another supplier. 
I planted the six plants - alternating - in a well prepared garden bed.
Yesterday, the Mighty Red plants had significant Early Blight so I have removed them
to the rubbish bin. The remaining 4 plants show no sign of any disease and look very healthy.
Is Mighty Red susceptible to disease - more than any other?
Your response would be appreciated.

Early blight is Alternaria solani (Alternaria of the Tomato family)

It is not a disease we regularly deal with on Tomatoes but it makes me lie awake on frosty nights. Our Pansies can end up looking not far off the pic above if we allow any water to sit on the foliage on cold, still nights. The chief form of prevention is regular doses of fungicide but I find managing watering more effective and more environmentally appropriate.

Why don't we see it more often on Tomatoes? Probably because we molly coddle them and hide them from frost. My guess is that our plants were either too soft from being kept inside too long or they didn't have a protective coating of fungicide to keep the disease out. I won't change our spraying policy but we have moved our Toms outside now to toughen them up.  Living on the edge!

We do find that our pansies will grow out of the Alternaria problems if the damage isn't too severe. It helps to have the plants growing vigorously, not hungry and stressed.

So why bare my soul? I'd rather know about problems than not, we want to supply only the very best plants. So if you have seen signs of Early Blight or any other problem that we need to take responsibility for please give me a call or drop me a line. If you have any tips on controlling Alternaria diseases please let me know.

By the way Mighty Red is a hybrid variety with excellent disease resistance and flavour.  

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