How to Keep Tomatoes Disease Free

by on November 19th, 2010
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Disease can take out and ruin your tomato crop in a short time. The disease can spread to other healthy plants. Always inspect your plants so at the first signs of any problems, you can take control and do something. This article will help you with prevention.

If you live in short season zones, the freezing temperatures can cause late blight to die. In order for this disease to survive, it needs living tissue. This disease can survive on potato plants though. So remove and destroy any volunteer potato plants. Then next season, when you purchase starter potatoes, choose ones that are certified as disease-free.

Use Crop Rotation

By changing the planting areas where you planted tomatoes, peppers and other plants every year, will help prevent disease. By implementing crop rotation, the soil won’t be depleted of nutrients. Plants take out certain minerals like nitrogen or potassium, but they will increase other nutrient levels as they grow. Crop rotation helps insure that the soil is never without what it needs to grow.

Labels Indicate Disease Resistance

While choosing the plants you wish to grow, do your homework. Read the planting label, seed packet, or the description in the garden catalogs. You can talk to the professional at the garden supply store if none of these items are available, or if you’re like me, you may have forgotten your reading glasses at home. Planting labels either state that the plants are resistant to certain diseases, or they will have a letter behind the name. Some of these letters and the disease they are resistant to are;

V: Verticillium wilt

F: Fusarium wilt

N: Root-knot nematode

T: Tobacco Mosaic virus

A: Alternaria leaf spot

FF: Race 1 and Race 2 Fusarium

L : Septoria leaf spot

Space Plants Apart

Even if you have a small garden, it is important that you leave the recommended amount of space between the tomato plants. When the plants are small, they don’t look like they need much room, but they will grow. Indeterminate tomato plants continue to grow throughout the season. In order for the plants to fight off disease, there has to be air circulation and light needs to reach to the middle of the plant. Air circulation and light helps dry the leaves, preventing disease.

If your tomato plants are in determinant, you will need to stake them. This helps the air to circulate, keeping the leaves dry. It also keeps the fruit off the ground so it can form properly, stay cleaner, and it prevents bugs from eating them.

Know the Weather Conditions

Disease is more prevalent in certain types of weather. Cool, wet, damp weather is prime conditions for disease, especially blight to flourish. If the weather has been warm and dry, the threat diminishes. Although you can’t do much about the weather, you can take preventative measures to keep blight from spreading quickly.

Mix up a spray with copper such as Garden Dust. You can also use a product with beneficial bacteria such as Serenade Garden Disease control. As with any product, always read and follow label directions on how to mix and apply. Using more than recommended and bacillus subtilis organic measures are the best way to deal with this disease. It is important to monitor your plants. Talk to neighbors how their gardens are doing or contact the local extension agent.

Talk to the County Extension Agent

If you are unsure whether your plants have early blight, septoria leaf spot or late blight, take a cutting of the infected leaves or stem. Place it into a bag to keep the disease from spreading.Take the sample into your local extension agent. They can tell you what your plant has.

Late Blight

If you find out that it is late blight, go home and pull up the plants. As you remove the plants, deposit them immediately into a garbage bag. Tie the bag shut. Leave the bag in the hot sun for several days. Heat will kill the spores, preventing the disease from spreading. Leave the bag for the garbage truck to haul away. Do not use the plants in your compost pile, because the disease will not die. Disinfect any tools that have come into contact with these plants.

North Dakota Extension: Questions on Tomatoes

University of Massachusetts: Late Blight

Rodale: Tomato Blight Update: How to Plan for a Blight-Prone Summer


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