Blight…What is it?

three biologic tomatoes with water drops (isolated on white background)

Hello All,

This year since I have been so busy I decided to buy my garden plants rather than start them by seed. To my demise I have found that I have Tomato Blight killing the tomato plants in one particular garden box. Thankfully though, it has not spread to all my plants. My friend from Wisconsin was visiting and she is a great gardener and I asked her if she knew what was going on with my tomatoes. So that is how I found out what it was. Great to have knowledgeable friends right! So of course the research began. I am not sure I have “late blight”….I unfortunately have been so busy I haven’t been monitoring my garden as I should and was grateful that God seemed to be watering it for me since my schedule this year has been more hectic than usual. I believe too much rain may have caused this or possibly I purchased an already infected plant.

Definition: Blight refers to a specific symptom affecting plants in response to infection by a pathogenic organism. It is simply a rapid and complete chlorosis, browning, and then death of plant tissues such as leaves, branches, twigs, or floral organs.

This disease can damage tomatoes and potatoes. It can quickly ruin an entire crop — and provide a source of infection for other plants. As gardeners we must understand that late blight is not like other tomato and potato diseases. Many other diseases affect these crops in home gardeners, but most of them only affect leaves or cause limited damage to fruit, and while they may reduce the harvest, they generally don’t cause a total loss. Most pathogens are not readily dispersed by wind, their effects are localized. Late blight, on the other hand, kills plants outright, and it is highly contagious. Its occurrence in your garden can affect other gardens and farms due to the wind-dispersed spores!!!! So surprisingly it has not taken my other tomato plants…Halleluiah. Sadly though, the infected plants must be destroyed to keep the disease from spreading. It was suggested by my friend to cover the entire garden over with Black plastic and hold it down with stones.

Another Fact: The fungus, (Phytophthora infestans), that causes late blight is aptly named: phytophthora in Latin means “plant destroyer.”

Blight has become a large threat to many gardeners in the last few years. It is not only affecting home gardeners but commercial growers are even battling this disease. The key is to choose plants wisely and make sure you give enough room for air to flow through the plants. Basically, plant per instruction. Monitor your plants daily or at a minimum every two days. It’s important for gardeners to be aware of this disease so they can act quickly. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet for control that takes care of this disease.

Tip: Choose the right variety: Though no tomato varieties are completely immune to late blight, plant breeders are now developing varieties that are resistant to infection by the late blight fungus.

Every year you should rotate your crops: To interrupt the life cycle of soil-borne diseases, don’t plant tomatoes or related plants such as peppers in the same place in the garden more than once in three years. Be alert and learn to distinguish late blight from other common diseases.

7262-drought 7262-early 7262-late-leaf 7262-septoria 7262-spores 7262-stem

May God Bless you and may your gardens be plentiful!

Mischele

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