Heirloom tomatoes that are resistant to wilt?

nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)August 15, 2011

The combination of heat, humidity, and way too little time to keep up on the weeding has resulted in my tomato patch being afflicted with some form of wilt. I can't tell if it's verticillium or fusarium wilt, but basically the leaves started to dry up and die from the lower levels on up. Now, I have a bunch of green and half-ripe tomatoes on almost-dead stems. From what I've read, wilt spores can survive for several years in the soil, so I'll have to find something that can resist it if I want to keep gardening in the same general location.

I was having really good luck with Abe Lincoln and Bloody Butcher heirloom tomatoes, but now that those are clearly out, what other heirlooms are out there that have a high disease tolerance? I'd like to stick with heirlooms rather than hybrids due to their flavor and the ability to save seeds. I'd like indeterminate varieties as well.

Anyone have some suggestions? Thanks!

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You may look into getting heirloom plants grafted onto resistant root stocks. That won't be cheap but is likely your best bet if you stick to heirlooms.

Resistance to the major wilts comes from other species and were bred into lines.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 5:57PM
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Did you have a wetter than normal season? Did the damage start as yellowing leaves with small brown spots at the bottom of the plant and gradually move up toward the top? From the description of the problem, you may have a combination of septoria and early blight. There are a few hybrids with tolerance to Early Blight and Late Blight but currently none with septoria tolerance. A few people have some breeding lines with the tolerance genes but to my knowledge, nothing has been made available yet.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 8:08PM
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If it is fusarium Cherokee Purple and Cherokee Green do well in my fusarium infested soil. I am going to try some other Cherokees next year. I read on another tomato forum that Neves Azorean Red holds its own against fusarium. I have not grown it, however, so I do not know if this it true.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 8:42PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Coral, I remember either your thread elsewhere or someone else saying that Neves Azorean Red tolerates Fusarium and I answered that I do pay attention at the several message sites where I read and sometimes post when anything is said about NAR b'c it's a variety I introduced via the SSE Yearbook, and to date I've never seen anyone say it was tolerant to Fusarium.

How I wish it was.

Besides, these days it isn't good enough to just say Fusarium b'c there are three races of it and no cross protection, and while races 1 and 2 are most common race 3 is becoming much more wide spread.

Aha, aren't you from NC, that seems to ring a bell with me as to where you posted about all the different Cherokees or something like that? I'm remembering that I said that race 3 is present in NC and the surrounding areas.

Carolyn, who has to keep feeding the good stuff to that part of her brain she calls tomato data storage. LOL

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 10:31PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

There's always Marglobe. You'll be sacrificing flavor for disease resistance, though...in my opinion. We grew one this season and it has developed EXACTLY how the catalogs describe this plant: bright red, heavy, round fruits, thick walled, heavy producer (all at once), totally free of diseases and BER. I haven't even seen one single aphid, whitefly, spider mite, nor hornworm on the darned plant! Crazy.

No wonder it's a favorite of truck farmers. You can drop this ripe tomato and it won't dent.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 12:02AM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)


We did have a wetter than usual spring this year, as well as starting off cooler than usual. Then, we got 100+ weather and incredibly high humidity for weeks in July. It's been a real roller coaster!

I didn't think it is blight, because I haven't seen any decay or destruction of the tomato fruits, just the leaves. Does blight always attack the fruit as well as the leaves? Septoria does look possible though, now that I look at some more pictures online.


Thanks for the info on the Cherokees! I was actually thinking about trying some anyway, so I'll definitely be adding those to my seed order now.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 12:47PM
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I do not know the sources that will provide them but I can tell you in the near future there will be good, if not very good, tasting lines based on heirlooms that have multiple disease resistances.

Some of the other issues like heavy cracking will also be reduced if not overcome.

There have been a few commercial lines based on heirlooms with disease resistance available in the past few years but they tend to be only available through commercial sales or in Europe. Some I have tried seem to be slanted towards putting out something that has the "look" (fasciated types) combined with the disease resistance rather than the flavor.

If anyone has some 'Eugenia' seed I would like to try it. It is one such commercial line from Europe (Italy) that has multiple disease resistances. There are also 'Cuore di Bue' types grown that have verticillium resistance now.

Still grafted heirlooms are a good way to go if you want to spend the money. One can even find 2 varieties grafted onto the same rootstock. A few companies offered grafted mail order plants. There may be some issue with regional and disease types when some company decides which rootstock to use for grafting (e.g. they may have not chose the best rootstock for your issues).

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 3:05PM
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Hi Carolyn,

I think I found the thread but Gardenweb prevents me from posting a link or the address since it is from tomato ville (had to type it like this to make it past the Gardenweb filter). It seems a few people also mention Gary O'Sena. The thread comes up when I do a google search for fusarium resistant heirloom tomato. Look for a discussion thread from the tomato ville forum.

You are correct I am in NC. Fudge! I did not realize we have all races of fusarium :(.

I also have a mislabeled heirloom in the garden that, while it is clearly suffering from one of the fusariums, has pumped out about 15-1 lb. To 1.5 lb. Toms. There are about 5 more that I am hoping will blush so I can pick them. After that I will put the plant out of its misery. I think it is Virginia Sweets. The other possibility is Hawaiian Pineapple. Clearly not what I would call tolerant to fusarium but it has yielded some big ones.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 9:49PM
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