Early blight infecting tomatoes across the region, here's what to do

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog early blight 628This is early blight on tomatoes, don't panic! Photos by Doug Oster

A cool spring has morphed into a hot and muggy early summer which is providing the perfect storm for early blight to infect tomato plants.

Don't panic, this weather has just about every gardener worried when they look down at the yellowing spotted foliage of America's favorite home grown vegetable.

Early blight is not a death sentence for tomatoes though.

The firs step is to remove infected foliage, new sprouts will form in their place. Be careful not to spread the disease to healthy plants.

I pull by hand and only work with infected plants. The diseased foliage is not added to the compost pile. I dispose of mine in a pile of weeds and diseased discards. I'll throw a few shovelfuls of woodland soil over them. Before I do any more work with tomatoes, I go inside and wash up.

Early blight is soil borne, so if plants have not been mulched yet, they should be. This will stop the spores from splashing up on the plant.

Some varieties are more prone to fungal issues than others, it's always a good idea to grow lots of different tomatoes.

It's not too late to plant either. I've been to nurseries who are almost giving away big, healthy plants filled with tennis ball sized tomatoes. I'm still planting as other crops are harvested. The plants will take off in this warm soil.

Fungicides can help slow the onset of early blight. Most are best applied BEFORE signs of damage appear. Serenade on the other hand is an organic fungicide which attacks the spores themselves. It's my number one choice when dealing with most fungal issues.

Don't let early blight worry you, the plants will rebound when things dry out and the season progresses.

One more thing, I'm picking tomatoes...are you? Please don't hate me!

blog ealry bight 2 628Early blight begins with yellowing, spotted leaves which progresses to the foliage turning brown and dying.


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