Tomato blight

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estorms
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Tomato blight

Post by estorms »

I have had tomato blight two years in a row. I planted in different spots each year. This year I am planting my tomatoes in raised beds. I plan to use red plastic mulch. I am also planting them in some other areas around my property. I want to get tomatoes somewhere. Since I have never had trouble with tomatoes before I am assuming it has something to do with my soil. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Post by rainbowgardener »

Yes, the blight spores can winter over in the soil. So where you have had blight, you don't want to put tomatoes (or peppers) back in that spot for several years. The plastic mulch should help. Also cut off the bottom branches so nothing touches the soil. Only water the soil, not the mulch.

You can spray with a diluted milk solution or compost tea, preventatively. Neither one will cure the blight, but they should help keep it from getting started. If spraying, be sure to do the underside of the leaves and do it in the AM so that it will have time to dry before evening.

Leave plenty of space between your plants, support well, and remove suckers to help promote air circulation.
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Post by gixxerific »

Yes mulch heavy, use anything, grass if you have nothing else. Soaker hoses or drip systems work great for this. Soaker hoses are much cheaper, I find they work wonders in my humid climate. I vary rarely overhead water anymore, it seems to help a lot.

Good luck.

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Post by estorms »

I have soaker hoses. I can put them in when I plant the tomatoes and leave them in there. Under the red plastic or on the top around the plants? I will be using well water and using the soaker hose means I couldn't let it warm up. I was thinking three tomatoes in an 8'X4' raised bed. Would that be too close?
Is there something I could spray on the soil that would kill the blight before I plant anything?

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Post by imafan26 »

Would solarization help ? What type of fungus causes blight and are there resistant tomatoes?
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Post by estorms »

After all my tomatoes got the blight in 2011, I planted one or two of every kind I could find in 2013. I planted some on one side of the garden and some on the other. They all got it. I had a soil test and put on everything recommended. This year I am cutting down a tree, maybe two, to have more light. I intend to build a raised bed for my tomatoes and bring in good soil. All my vine crops also died. The onions, beets,snap peas, and green peppers did well.

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Post by rainbowgardener »

There are some tomato varieties that are more blight resistant:

http://www.tomatodirt.com/blight-resist ... eties.html

google blight resistant tomatoes and you will find more articles like that.

However, that is not a guarantee. It is like water resistant vs. water proof. A watch may be water resistant; that doesn't mean you can plunge it in to the swimming pool.

No, solarization or any kind of soil drench won't really help. For any soil borne fungal disease (septoria, early blight, etc), what is in the soil is not the actual fungus (which could be killed), but the fungal spores, which are incredibly hardy and tolerant of any kind of insult - as witness the fact that they can stay in the soil for years dormant and still come back.
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by imafan26 »

Thanks. I looked up blight. I knew it was fungal, but not that there were different kinds. Tomatoes here have to be fusarium, verticillium, and nematode resistant to survive in the ground. All lower leaves have to be cut off. And sprayed in humid weather prophylactically.
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Post by tomc »

imafan26 wrote:Would solarization help ? What type of fungus causes blight and are there resistant tomatoes?


Your soil freezing kills late blight. Clean up autumnal beds. And let them freeze up tight.

Rotating beds as you note also helps.
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Post by rainbowgardener »

Yeah, that's why early blight is early and late blight is late. Early blight over-winters and is there already in spring. Late blight doesn't and has to come up from the south.

Also, it helps to start your own plants from seed. Some of the late blight epidemics have been spread by big nursery operations producing tons of transplants. The plants are infected when they leave the nursery, but too early to be visible.
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Post by estorms »

I will put all new dirt in the raised beds. That should take care of the blight. Do you think that is the same thing that killed all the vine crops?

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Post by filmnet »

The plants which are resistant are not like heirlooms at all, Nasty cherry i grow some last year Mountain Cherry ?

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Post by applestar »

My recommendation is to try to build a healthy, bio-diverse soil with good compost. Bio-diverse microbe rich soil will compete with disease organisms. Healthy soil >> Healthy plants are more resistant to any kind of infection.

Encourage good air circulation by filling raised bed with sides to the top, refrain from overcrowding, and start spraying alternately with dilute AACT solution and milk solution BEFORE humid/muggy season rolls in to encourage foliar phytosphere colonization and activity.

The milk/AACT regimen helps for all plants that get fungal issues such as powdery mildew, septoria, etc. (I won't say early or late blight since that's been questioned) -- I spray all my veg beds, fruit trees, berries, rose and magnolia trees. As long as I can keep it up once a week, they are OK. I can't tell you if it works on everything through the season because I've never kept it up all the way through the season. But generally, around here, the drought hits and there is less risk after mid-summer. That's about when I start just concentrating on squashes and melons and only applying spot/as needed treatments. AACT is used for general health tonic/treatment though, especially if any plant is declining.

Personally I tend to avoid using full-spectrum fungicide, even baking soda solution.
Last edited by applestar on Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by prettygurl »

Even though you think it is the soil, I would recommend spraying your plants with organic fungicide. I use the Safer brand. I have always had a problem with blight until the heat wave this year. I am in Western PA.

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Post by Tonio »

Great info applestar, would the AACT be better in drench or foliar application?
I will be employing actinovate and serenade for powdery mildew( and possibly septoria) that got my tom's last year. Would using milk solution and AACT be good after or in between the former treatments?
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Post by applestar »

Both Actinovate and Serenade are trademarked (different) single organism bio (bacterial) fungicides with antibiotic action for rhizosphere (roots) and phytosphere (foliage).

What does that mean to balance of power among the Soil foodweb (rhizosphere) and Foliage foodweb (phytosphere) microbes?

Will application of milk solution then feed Serenade?

Serenade is a microbial biological control agent based on Bacillus subtilis which protects against fungal and bacterial plant pathogens. Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713 is a naturally occurring widespread bacterium that can be used to control plant diseases including blight, scab, gray mold, and several types of mildew. Regulatory authorities in USA and Europe classified Bacillus subtilis QST 713 as displaying no adverse effects on humans or the environment.
http://www.basf.com/group/corporate/en/brand/SERENADE

What happens to the lactobacillus you were hoping to culture? (will they be able to gain foothold or will they be out competed by the denser concentration of Serenade bacteria) Are they the same microbes? -- is Serenade a special strain....?

Similarly or actually, AACT would contain or should contain a vast diversity of microbes. Again, vs. a dense concentration of single organism.... Pure speculation -- many of the AACT cultured microbes will fail to prosper, and possibility that some predatorial microbe(s) will prey on Actinovate.... :?

Streptomyces lydicus strain WYEC 108 is a naturally occurring bacterium that is commonly found in soil environments. It is thought that the bacterium works by colonizing the growing root tips of plants and parasitizing root decay fungi (such as Fusarium, Pythium, and other species). The bacterium may also produce antibiotics that act against these fungi.
http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/chem_search/reg_actions/registration/fs_PC-006327_25-Nov-09.pdf
Streptomyces lydicus strain WYEC 108 is a saprophytic rhizosphere colonizing Actinomycete. It was isolated from the roots of a linseed plant in an area that exhibited a natural suppression of soil pathogens. Under proper conditions (moisture and temperature) the Streptomyces spores will germinate and begin forming mycelia that will attach to the root system of the host plant.
http://www.agriculturesolutions.com/index.php?page=shop.getfile&file_id=340&product_id=1090&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=113

Do the two "products" work synergistically or will they {what's the opposite of "synergistic"?}. Anything sprayed on the foliage will fall to the ground, especially to the drip line where the most actively dividing root cells are....

What do you think?

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Post by applestar »

Quick blurb here. After posting the above, I went looking for more info on milk and lactobacillus, and found out that they (the scientists) are still trying to reach a conclusion about what makes milk work. There are some refuting lactobacillus as the beneficial agent. And nothing definitive comes up in the search (So I guess I need to retract what I said above).

I don't know if she'd said anything different since, but here's what Dr. Ingham said back in 2003 (this is a little hard to read -- I had to copy the text to another app that would wrap the text)
http://www.ibiblio.org/london/SoilWiki/ ... 00160.html

The information in these references are what most of the others' recommendations seem to be based on:
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic ... ildew_Woes

Drop of White -- http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/print392.html

The original U of Adeleide researchers, et.al. appear to be conducting an on-going research to discover the actual mechanism since 2009, according to their bio.

...I wish someone can explain to me if the Bacillus strain in Serenade is somehow related.... :?

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Post by estorms »

Seranade and Actinovate. Can I use these as a preventative? How poison are they? Are they something I can buy at Walmart? I want tomatoes this year. I am assuming the label will tell me how much and how often. Should I use this with the milk?

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Post by applestar »

Well, that's the question, isn't it?

They are not supposed to be poisonous/toxic and I've seen them sold on a number of sites conventional and organic. But personally I have questions as I posted above. :wink:

I didn't see whether you said it was early or late blight your tomatoes had ?

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Post by Gary350 »

Tomato blight runs in cycles. It typically lasts about 5 to 6 years in a row. I have had blight in my TN garden for 5 years. I hope there is no blight this year. Last year I did pretty good keeping blight under control. I put a teaspoon of copper sulfate, 2 tablespoons of baking soda and lime in the hole before I planted the tomato plant. I sprayed the plants with a mix of copper sulfate and lime disolved in water every week. I stead of all my tomatoe plants being dead in mid July they all lived until late August. I lost 2 plants first week of Sept and all the rest were dead by October. i don't like putting copper on my plants I worry about heavy metal poisoning.

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Post by Tonio »

Applestar, I'll have to research a bit more- time willing- and thanks for your perspective.
I did find over @ TMV that a user did use actinovate/ serenade and interim milk solution.
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Post by Tonio »

estorms- no you can't get actinovate/serande @ walmart- well maybe sererande.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0052S ... FRXYZGD566

Most decent nursery should have at least sereanade(& possibly actinovate- I got it locally) which is a preventative. Actinovate does have a short shelf life- I think 6 mo's.

And no, they are not synthetic poison-they are a fungicide made of bacteria.
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Post by estorms »

My blight is early blight. Last year I sprayed thoroughly with copper sulphate at the first sign of blight. It seemed to have no effect; by the end of the week, all the tomatoes had it. I pulled them out, cleaned up thoroughly, and replanted. Same thing. Other people buying at the same nursery did not have it. I did notice some blight on the tomatoes at Walmart, but I didn't buy anything there. I am starting my own plants this year. The cantelope, watermelon, three kinds of squash, cucumbers, and ornamental gourds, all died of something fuzzy shortly after sprouting. Other things did very well. When I moved here, this area was a children's play yard with healthy grass. The former owners had several loads of topsoil trucked in. My tomatos and vineing crops had the blight, but I still got enough vegetables for my needs. Last year was very bad, the beans, peas, beets, and onions were unaffeced.

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Post by rainbowgardener »

We are getting off topic and maybe you should start your own thread, estorms. But was the something fuzzy on all the cucurbits (melons, squash, etc) powdery mildew?

Image

powdery mildew on squash leaves.

It is another fungal disease and cucurbits are very prone to it. However, in my experience, it may eventually kill them if bad enough, but it is a much slower killer than blight and more treatable.

Try spraying the cucurbit leaves including the underside with diluted milk, compost tea, or baking soda solution, preventatively and at the first sign of the disease.

What is the pH of your soil and your water? Acid conditions promote fungal diseases. We had someone last summer who kept writing in about different fungal diseases all over everything in her garden. It turned out that both her soil and her water supply were quite acidic. When she was able to correct that, things got much better.
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Post by applestar »

estorms wrote:My blight is early blight. Last year I sprayed thoroughly with copper sulphate at the first sign of blight. It seemed to have no effect; by the end of the week, all the tomatoes had it. I pulled them out, cleaned up thoroughly, and replanted. Same thing. Other people buying at the same nursery did not have it. I did notice some blight on the tomatoes at Walmart, but I didn't buy anything there. I am starting my own plants this year. The cantelope, watermelon, three kinds of squash, cucumbers, and ornamental gourds, all died of something fuzzy shortly after sprouting. Other things did very well.


Early blight is typicaly not as scary as the dreaded late blight. The other vegs that died of "something fuzzy" are all cucurbits and I concur with rainbowgardener's diagnosis that it was most likely powdery mildew.

If you had sprayed the tomatoes with serious fungicide, it will have killed off susceptible beneficial as well as enimical fungi, leaving only those that are resistant. Early blight on your tomatoes may have been resistant. The explosion of powdery mildew on the cucurbits is likely due to the same effect. They found a nice cleared area with no competition and no predatorial microbes and plants struggling in soil depleted of symbiotic beneficial fungi. Once you start to spray whole-sale fungicide or pesticide, you have to keep spraying to maintain the "sterile" condition -- but in nature, spores and insects blow in with the wind.

Based on what you said next:
estorms wrote:When I moved here, this area was a children's play yard with healthy grass. The former owners had several loads of topsoil trucked in. My tomatos and vineing crops had the blight, but I still got enough vegetables for my needs. Last year was very bad, the beans, peas, beets, and onions were unaffeced.

...I think I want to restate what I said first on the first page:
applestar wrote:My recommendation is to try to build a healthy, bio-diverse soil with good compost. Bio-diverse microbe rich soil will compete with disease organisms. Healthy soil >> Healthy plants are more resistant to any kind of infection.


"healthy grass" to me means lots of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and fungicides. "children's play yard" probably means compacted soil. So I still think amending with good compost is your answer. If you have access to leafpiles, you could even start one right now. It won't do much in the coldest weeks, but we seem to be getting occasional warm breaks so compost pile will slowly but surely break down. You don't need much for AACT.

As I mentioned above, milk solution and dilute AACT soil drench and foliar spray are both effective as preventive for these kinds of fungal issues when appliction is started with the onset of weather conditions that promote them, and before the problem appears. By "armoring" the foliage and creating a healthy competition among the microbes (note that microbes in the compost and compost tea will most likey already include the symbiotic organisms that are concentrated in the products mentioned above) the tomatoes and cucurbit vines will have resistance.

Your tomatoes may have been infected first by septoria type earlier fungal infection that weakened them to early blight, which many tomato varieties can outpace and outgrow -- or at least that has been my experience. And let me note that I only grow heirlooms and open pollinated varieties, not hybrids with bred in resistance. I feel people save seeds from fruits that matured in spite of such set backs in the garden, and therefore have inherited buit in resistance.

However, if you are feeling very discouraged about growing tomatoes right now, you may feel better from growing hybrid varieties which specifically boast resistance to early blight and probably powdery mildew and other fungal diseases this year.

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Post by rainbowgardener »

very nice posts in this thread, applestar! Thanks so much for all your wisdom.
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Post by imafan26 »

I think we would all like to cultivate the good organisms in the soil and get rid of the bad. It has been my experience that it is very hard to change.

Your soil conditions, environment, drainage, pH, and the native fauna (soil web organisms) all factor in. I think even if you apply beneficial organisms to your plants, the effect will be temporary unless those organisms are able to persist. The denizens of the your existing soil will always have a leg up because they are already acclimated.

I think that is why as Gary said, blight comes in cycles. The good thing is the soil organisms are constantly battling for dominance and so change is possible. Others have said that winter freeze should kill the organisms.

Change will take time, you may want to try to change your pH and raise it more by adding compost and chicken manure and then planting instead of tomatoes something in the cruciferous group that like higher pH. and planting green manures to overwinter. Over time, changing the food source, will change which organisms in the soil will dominate.

Looking for resistant varieties of tomatoes is a good idea if you still want to try to grow tomatoes. I would also think about growing tomatoes in pots instead and using a drier mix or even experiment with hydroponics. Rotate planting areas and plant green manures and a variety of plants.
Try bokashi to introduce organisms you want to encourage.

I don't have winter freezes, but I rarely get early blight and I have acidic soil. I do plant tomatoes in pots and when they are done, I dump the contents of the pots into the garden and start with fresh potting soil. I cut off all the lower leaves. I also have tomatoes in self watering containers, They are watered by a watering tube so unless it rains the leaves don't necessarily get wet.

I rotate the tomato containers with beans, peanuts, herbs mostly to control pests and diseases. And I use disease resistant varieties, although my best plants are not the tastiest.

I have used fungicides on some of my plants, i.e. brandywine gets mildew very badly, but I don't work to hard trying to keep a sick plant going. I pull it instead. After a while it really is not worth all the effort, the sick plant is always going to be attacked by some pest or disease. It is always going to be survival of the fittest.

Right now I have a problem with tomato yellow curl virus. I pull over half my tomatoes out because of it. Early girl, champion II, and some wild cherry tomatoes are the only ones that do not show signs and still remain big and productive.

My friend pointed out though, that there was no point to raising tomatoes that grew well but did not taste good. I am contemplating cleaning out the pots and planting something else for a while to see if the disease will die out.
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Post by Allan23 »

estorms wrote:I have soaker hoses. I can put them in when I plant the tomatoes and leave them in there. Under the red plastic or on the top around the plants? I will be using well water and using the soaker hose means I couldn't let it warm up. I was thinking three tomatoes in an 8'X4' raised bed. Would that be too close?
Is there something I could spray on the soil that would kill the blight before I plant anything?


Wouldn't watering under red plastic cause the ground to get moldy? From what I've read, tomato blight can spread very easily. You might want to make sure you don't use the infected plants in your compost.

Here is a helpful article that has some suggestions on what to try.

Tips For Tomato Blight Control

I like your idea of cutting down a couple trees to give your tomatoes more light. I think that our garden could use a little more light than it gets with all the tall poplar trees in our backyard.

I hope you are able to find a solution. It must be depressing to have it happen every year. :(

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