County fairs are normally associated with the arrival of the first garden tomato.
Plant health and fruit quality vary across the area due to a variety of reasons.
There are several factors that can contribute to poor tomato performance. Purdue Extension Vigo County has received several questions regarding tomato problems. This article provides an update as to what is happening with the area tomato crop. If you have questions not covered in this article, feel free to contact Purdue Extension or e-mail me a photo of your plant problem at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several tomato patches in the past month have been infected by Septoria leaf spot and Early blight.
Septoria infects plants when the fungal spores are present in wet weather with temperatures in a range of 60-80 degrees.
Early blight is most active in humid weather with temperatures in the 75-85 degree range. Both fungal diseases cause leaf sports that can lead to leaf drop and subsequent compromise of fruit quality, namely smaller fruit and sunscald. At this writing, if infection has occurred the only thing a gardener can do is protect healthy foliage with an appropriate fungicide. A product containing the active ingredient Chlorothalonil can be applied to protect health leaves and can be applied up to harvest.
Other fungicide products are also labeled for protection, but may have a longer harvest restriction. If plants are infected, plan now to remove said vines from the garden during clean-up to reduce the spread of fungal spores. Propert pest identification is the first step in pest management and always follow product label directions.
There has been media coverage of another fungal disease in tomato that is causing problems in the Northeastern United States.
Late blight is another fungal disease that infects plants in the nightshade family, namely tomatoes, potatoes, and sweet peppers. The Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab reports no confirmation of this disease in our area.
Tomato plants infected with late blight have been shipped to large retail stores in the Northeast from Ohio to Maine.
As the name suggests, late blight typically infects tomato later in the growing season.
A complete update on tomato pest problems can be reviewed at the Purdue plant diagnostic website at www.ppdl.purdue.edu/PPDL/.
In order to better manger fungal diseases in your tomatoes, evaluate your production site and plan to use more mulch to help keep plants better protected from infection.
Also plan now for 2010 crop by planning to move your tomatoes to new soil in the garden. Fungal spores are the source of new infection for next year, so plan for a three-year rotation of all plants in the nightshade family. For the next few weeks, remove damaged leaves from the patch and keep your watering focused on the base of the plant.
Other problems reported in area tomatoes include blossom end rot, plant wilt, and leaf rolling. Blossom end rot happens when the plant cannot uptake proper calcium level, leaving the bottom of the fruit rotten. Consistent watering will provide relief for developing fruit. Complete plant wilt often is attributed to fusarium or verticillium wilt disease. There is not a prescription for treatment of infected plants. If you have wilt, plant to rotate and use varieties that are resistant. Leaf rolling can often by induced by changes in environmental conditions and can vary by variety.
Hoosiers love their tomatoes and trying to get a good crop in the garden this year has been a challenge.
Contact Purdue Extension if you have questions by calling the Vigo County Extension Office at 812-462-3371 or e-mailing email@example.com.