Time to Monitor and Control Tomato Diseases

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

After several weeks of drought conditions moisture finally arrived at the end of June. This was a great relief for vegetable farmers as crops were showing signs of moisture stress.

Septoria Leaf Spot, Early and Late Blight are generally the most severe tomato diseases in Nova Scotia. Early blight-resistant tomato varieties aren't available, so gardeners have to use a combination of disease management practices.

Septoria leaf spot can occur at any stage of plant development. Symptoms may appear on young greenhouse seedlings ready for transplanting or be first observed on the lower, older leaves and stems when fruits are setting.

Early blight shows up as a leaf blight on the lower part of plants. The disease moves upward. As the disease progresses, leaves turn yellow, wither, and drop from plants.

Late blight may or may not arrive to Nova Scotia. In some years it can be devastating for tomato crop while in other years it is not present.

A management program for this disease is based on crop rotation, removal and destruction of crop debris from previous crops, staking, mulching, and timely application of fungicides.

Staking and mulching are important for leaf diseases, since staking keeps foliage and fruit from contacting the soil surface, and mulching cuts down on "soil splash" onto lower parts of the plant.  Soil particles often contain the early blight fungus spores, and mulching is a good way of keeping the fungus from invading plants.

A prevention fungicide program is very important. For detailed information on fungicides registered for field tomato please visit: