Who has blight, and where?

ilovecucumbersAugust 7, 2014

Eastern PA here. My tomatoes have blight. Anyone else?

Do I have to destroy the plants? Would like to get as many tomatoes as possible.

Will the blight spore stay in the soil?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Which 'blight' specifically and why do you think that is what is the problem rather than Septoria or one of the bacterial-caused diseases? Can you post a photo? Have you tried any of the treatments/controls that are recommended for the various diseases? Which ones?

Dave

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:28PM
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ilovecucumbers

Here you are.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 4:34PM
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ilovecucumbers

I did read up on blight, and it certainly looks like it. Gray spots on leaves, and greasy gray patches on a few tomatoes now. There's lots of stuff online, but I kind of like to get advice from this community. I'm especially confused on whether I need to do anything to my soil, or if I can let the PA winter take care of it for me. Thank you for any advice you may have.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 11:38PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

First, there several different kinds of 'blight' - Early Blight, Southern Blight, Late Blight, etc. - and all have different causes and different symptoms. Add to the fact that too many use the label 'blight' to cover all tomato diseases regardless of the cause or symptoms, you can see why using just the label 'blight' doesn't help in any way.

Southern Blight should not be an issue in your area although it is possible. Given the coloring in the photo it would appear that it isn't Early Blight although it can't be ruled out for sure.

So if it is one of the so-called 'blights', it looks more like Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans). But that is the most rare form. The last run of p. infestans in your area was in 2009 and I don't find any current threat news about it this year. Your local county extension office would know if it is currently a problem in your area. If so, destroy the plant. If not then it is your choice to destroy it or aggressively treat it with fungicides.

And since it is air borne and takes plants down fully within a few days of developing symptoms the decision is usually made for you within 48-72 hours of symptoms.

Personally, if it is already affecting the fruit too then I'd rip it out regardless of what disease it is.

The fungus can only survive on live tissue so it will not overwinter in your area unless there is live plant tissues left buried in the soil.

But diagnosis from a photo is very iffy and there are other possible causes so why not take a sample to your county extension office and get their opinion.

Hope this helps.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 1:06PM
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ilovecucumbers

Thank you Dave. I appreciate the input. I will call, and come back to report what the office said.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:07PM
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ilovecucumbers

Following up on your feedback, Dave. I called the Berks County Extension Office. The woman confirmed that late blight has been reported county wide. Based on my symptoms, my tomatoes have both late blight and septoria.

I don't want to use fungicides, so I am going to get the fruit I can, and then pull out the plants. I asked her if I would be hurting anyone else's plants by doing this, and she said no, since it's already spread throughout the county.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:22PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry to hear that as usually they put out a report on it once it begins cropping up if for no other reason than to alert others in the area.

It is probably too late for fungicides to do any good this year but for next year there are many organic approved fungicides you could consider using. If you use them early on you can prevent many of the problems developing.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 6:11PM
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macbettz

your plants are doomed but I have had it and rather than pull em up and bag em I would pick infected leaves and spray with Daconil and I was able to have some decent tomatoes.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 8:09PM
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ilovecucumbers

Yes, I am still getting some beautiful fruit. It's just so sad to see these plants, which I grew from seed, die. Some people love babies. Some people love dogs. I love my plants, and it is really getting to me to watch them go.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 11:14PM
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barrie2m_

Sorry Cucs to hear of your situation but Late Blight has been confirmed in 15 PA counties so far and I noticed it on a plate of tomatoes at a central PA Fair (16th county)so it is spreading. There isn't much that organic growers can use except copper; and chlorothalonil is preventative at best. there are translaminar products available and I am living proof that some work well but you may just want to call it a season and hope for next year. You can harvest fruits but be aware that the lesions from infected fruits may show up at any time and then you should throw the fruit away.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 7:53AM
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Peter1142(Zone 6b)

Why would you throw away good fruit??? Harvest and hope for the best. Maybe wash in a dilited bleach. The fungus is harmless to people. If they go bad throw them away.

My tomatoes have the early blight, with the ring lesions, as did my potatoes, and it does damage at a snails pace, to older leaves mostly.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:00AM
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bigpinks

Here along the Ohio River early blight has been a problem as long as I can remember so I take it for granted. Depending on the amt of rain and prob other weather conditions I don't understand it can come at diff times. Last yr with way too much rain I had the earliest and most severe EB ever. I still picked a lot of tomatoes but I did have about 60 plants in the garden. I panted out this yr about May 12 and started picking fruit 1st week of July from 81 plants of Cherokee Purple, Hillbilly, Bear Claw and Big Beef. Also had 5 cherry plants. Blight arrived not as early as last yr and I have had a banner yr. I prob picked several hundred fruit after the bottom branches had the telltale yellow splotches. The tomatoes were not affected at all. I still have solid tomatoes even tho the foliage is about gone. But it wont be long now. I have three suckers about 5ft ea in containers and two are blighted but the three plants have 20 fruit. The Indian tomatoes blighted much later than the others but they were 100 ft apart on the other side of the house. Bottom line is for me...it takes a very long time for blight to affect large green fruit but it prevents October tomatoes that you could harvest otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:56AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Theoretically Early Blight ( A. solani) can infect all parts of the plant but usually doesn't whereas Late Blight, P. infestans, is a far more serious disease, does infect all parts of the plants including the fruits, from the inside, not the outside.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:05AM
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ilovecucumbers

If the ripe fruits only have one small lesion, can I still use to make sauce? Research says no, but it's referencing canning tomatoes, not sauce. The sauce has to cook a long time, and then it's 45 minutes in a water bath.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 2:45PM
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Peter1142(Zone 6b)

As the fungus is harmless to people, you can.

Looks like the late blight is raging in the NE this year. My tomatoes have been slow going and I was hoping for a big September harvest... fingers crossed. My neighbors plants are dead but I have no idea the cause.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 8:52AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If the ripe fruits only have one small lesion, can I still use to make sauce? Research says no, but it's referencing canning tomatoes, not sauce.

This comes up each year over on the canning and preserving forum (Harvest). It is your choice but the research and the guidelines that say no apply to all tomato products (as well as potatoes).

According to the USDA research and that at Cornell the only way the fungus can be killed when canned is by pressure canning. Cooking and BWB canning don't get hot enough to kill the spores and the spores permeate the entire fruit not just the bad spot.

In addition the infection raises the pH of the tomatoes into the unsafe for canning range so one would need to add much more acid than normal to compensate. That affects the flavor and the shelf life.

But the choice is yours.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:29AM
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ilovecucumbers

Yes, this is what I read. Just made my last batch of sauce with the last batch of healthy tomatoes I'm likely to get.

I didn't see the Harvest forum. There are so many forums, I missed it. But thank you for your usual thorough answer. :)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 3:27PM
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lionheart_gw

Yeah, I just got hit with Late Blight too. I'm rescuing tomatoes today, and will rescue potatoes later this afternoon (although the potatoes are not showing any signs just yet).

Thankfully I'm growing everything in 15 to 30 gallon fabric containers this year, so it's all reasonably manageable, in that the plants and soil are contained and easily accessible.

The Late Blight map showed it in Columbia County NY, which is just a hop, skip, and jump away. I'm in Albany County.

On Saturday I noticed those ugly oily-looking stains on the backs of a couple of leaves and figured the outcome was inevitable; today the plants are looking like death warmed over. It's even more obvious on the stems. Beautiful, clean, healthy plants went from pride-and-joy to grim reaper bait in a few days. Bummer.

I grabbed the couple of just-blushing Indian Stripes, and there are a couple of Debbie fruits that look like they are starting to just turn color. But will they ripen indoors before the disease possibly does them in? [Just a rhetorical question.]

Maybe I'll bring them in and try spraying them with a dilute bleach product, whose name I wont mention in case it is verboten to do so.

I swear I am fated to never try Debbie. Last year I got the plants in too late, and the year before I never got a chance to put the seedlings in because my elderly mother was terminally ill and required too much care. This year everything was going well - huge fruits, great weather for growing, now LB. Darn it!

Oh well, we'll get 'em next year. :-)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:10PM
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ilovecucumbers

That's the spirit, Lionheart. I grew potatoes this year too, but harvested before the blight showed up.

I took one bed out yesterday, and will finish this week. I'm checking the maters I rescued every day. Some are hanging tough.

Next year, I'm using fungicide. Gotta study up on its proper use.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:19PM
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lionheart_gw

I usually use fungicide, but got lazy this year and lulled into a false sense of security because it wasn't too humid and the weather had been pretty great. That'll teach me. :-)

So, Cucumbers, we'll get it sorted out eventually.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 2:09PM
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