Tomato Diseases: Overview
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in the world. Almost everyone can plant tomatoes either in their backyards or in the greenhouses. Growing fresh and healthy tomatoes can bring happiness to the grower. But tomatoes can also suffer from all kinds of diseases. The usual problems in growing tomatoes are often the result of weather conditions and this is something that is beyond the gardener’s control.
Diseases may be caused by infectious microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Tomato diseases may also be caused by environmental stresses on plants. Tomato diseases are either visible in the tomatoes foliage or fruit.
Tomato Diseases on the Foliages and Its Management
Common diseases that may affect tomato’s leaves, flowers, and stems and ways to manage the disorders are as follows:
• Early Blight is a fungal disease that affects the foliage, stems and occasionally attacks the tomato fruits. Its symptoms include dark spots with rings developing on older leaves first. The surrounding leaf may also turn yellow and affected leaves may die prematurely which may result in exposing the fruits to sun scald.
Remove the affected plants and thoroughly clean fall garden debris. The fungus may likely to attack on stressed plants and wet weather. To prevent further fungal development, copper and sulphur sprays can be used.
• Southern Blight: It manifests as a white mold forming on the stem just near the soil line of the tomato plant. Dark patches appear on the lower stem making the inner and outer stem to have discolorations. Southern blight fungus attacks the stem and hinders the plant from taking up nutrients and water.
Giving extra calcium and using of fertilizers containing ammonium may offer protection to the plants from the disease.
• Verticillium Wilt: This is caused by a soil-borne fungus and it can also affect other vegetables. Signs of verticillium wilt include; lower leaves discoloration in the stems, wilting during the hottest part of the day and recovering at night. This disease inhibits the plant’s ability to take in water including nutrients and eventually kills the plant.
To manage and prevent other plants to be infected, removal of affected plants is recommended.
Tomato Diseases on the Fruits
Here are some of tomato diseases that affect its fruits.
• Anthracnose: This is a very common fungus that causes tomato fruit to rot. Its symptoms include; small, round sunken spots that appear on the fruit.
Copper sprays offer some resistance to the fungal causing disease. Don’t water the leaves; moisten the base of the plant instead.
• Gray Wall: It is a ripening problem in a tomato plant. Its signs; green fruits may have gray cast or blotches. Ripe fruits will have brown or green areas inside the fruits.
Good growing conditions will prevent this type of disease from infecting the plant.
Prevention of Tomato Diseases
Tomato Diseases are said to be rarely fatal if proper management is made. It is very important to discover any tomato diseases as early as possible before it spreads to all your tomato plants and possibly other plants.
Proper care of tomato plants and some common preventives in dealing with infested crops are as follows:
1.) Rotate tomato plants. Every three to four years move your tomato plants in other locations. If tomatoes are already infected with diseases, transplant them only when they are dry so as not to spread the infection.
2.) Water in the plants in the morning rather than in the evening to lessen the amount of time that the leaves are wet to avoid fungal infection.
3.) Fight pests by moistening the infected area then cover it with black plastic for at least 3 weeks in the warmest part of the summer.
It is also known that planting marigolds especially the French variety, fend off nematodes. Plant the infected area full of marigolds.
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