Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Are your Tomatoes Fired Up?

A very common problem I have encountered in gardens this spring is known as Early Blight.  We have had a especially good year for the development of this fungal disease.  Cooler temperatures, heavy and often rains have caused this to progress somewhat faster than in other years.  What to do?

Control begins with clean transplants, which means no spotting on the leaves, and good green color to the plant.  Since this is a soil born disease there should be a mulch placed on the soil to keep soil from bouncing on to the leaves during heavy rains.  Any thing will do such as newspaper, leaves, grass clippings, etc. An early spray program of chlorothalonil or mancozeb (these are active ingredients) will insure that you keep the plant clean longer through the season.  If you are not partial to chemical treatments then particular attention will need to be paid to the cultural practices that will reduce the risk.  Water under the foliage with drip irrigation or soaker hoses, but never over the top with a sprinkler.  Also if you reuse trellises, cages, stakes etc. you will need to sanitize these during the winter.  The tiny spores can overwinter on these structures and cause re-infestation the following year. 

In central Kentucky you still have time to replant tomatoes to get a crop but the above practices need to be used.