• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Scary Late Blight Fungus Killing NE Organic Tomatoes/Potatoes

 
                                  
Posts: 175
Location: Suwon, South Korea
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's an example of why redundancy and diversity are such key concepts in Permaculture:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/29/dining/29toma.html

Apparently there are no organic pesticides that have been successful.  And it is even worse on heirloom varieties.
Anyone in other regions experiencing similar problems?
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know if my tomato problems this year are related to this. I did buy plants from bonnie whose name I have heard in relation to it. I have had most of my tomato plants get brown leaves and die some almost right away and some are just now succumbing after appearing to outgrow it for awhile. the only ever time i have had a serious problem was with curly top disease about 5 years ago. my romas interestingly are not affected. they are planted in a different part of the garden and were all purchased from a nursery who personally starts all there seedlings.

I am hesitant to blame this disease entirely or at all. this is a new garden i don't know if there were existing problems. I stupidly and hurriedly planted the tomatoes in the same place theirs were last year. this has also been and odd year as far as heat and rainfall patterns.

better luck next time I guess. I have 0 tomatoes to put up this year
 
Nicholas Covey
Posts: 180
Location: Missouri/Iowa border
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Something worth noting is that I had a huge problem with late blight this year in two of my plots (conventional tillage plots, because I'm working with other people and they want to do it their way).

However, my third plot was never tilled but instead heavily mulched with old hay and straw and the plants planted directly into the dead sod. (Sheet mulching is a Mollison tactic I believe, but I tried it after I read the "No Work Garden" by ruth stout). At any rate, the late blight has yet to set in on my tomatoes there, but have completely decimated the ones where a tiller was used. Two of the plots are less than a mile apart.

My grandmother made the point of telling me that my heirlooms weren't blight resistant but that the hybrids she planted two rows over were. However, hers are all defoliated, and I still have some plants that are still fighting and producing.

I don't know what made the difference, but from the permie standpoint I think we can all point at those naturally grown heirlooms put in place with no tillage to speak of and say that's how it should be done. I don't know if that will stand up scientifically or not. I do know that I haven't seen any blight spots on that plot of tomatoes at all and my mother has fifteen topsy turvy planters 50 feet away (upwind no less) that are almost completely defoliated with blight.

To me this speaks volumes about the value of sheet mulching and minimum tillage to the overall health of the plant.

Another point worth noting... This article notes a problem in the Northeast with late blight. I am in the upper Midwest, more than a thousand miles from the places sited in the article.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20452
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In seattle, almost everybody loses their tomatoes this time of the year due to blight.  I was able to get mine to last all the way to the first frost. 

Two very important ingredients:

1) don't water the leaves

2) plant where the is LOTS of sun!

Eliminating monocultures helps a lot. 

I suspect that if you can entirely eliminate the need to water, that will help a lot.  A deep hugelkultur plus lots of mulch plus a taprooted tree or two nearby.



 
Irene Kightley
pollinator
Posts: 383
Location: South West France
24
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can you explain more about the point you made about tap rooted trees please.

Here too in France we've had late blight for the past three years. It's heartbreaking. 
 
jeremiah bailey
Posts: 343
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The tap root brings moisture from deep underground and helps moisten the surrounding soil, lessening the need for irrigation. Any moisture on the foliage of a plant increases the susceptibility to mold and mildew problems such as blight.
 
Irene Kightley
pollinator
Posts: 383
Location: South West France
24
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the quick answer jeremiah.

I don't feel so mad now having trees in the veg plot.   
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
next year I will be "hiding" my tomatoes in a scattered garden. diseases seem to circulate in plants just like viruses in humans. we take as many reasonable precautions as we can.......and always have a backup plan for food!!!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
my tomato plants are growing in a greenhouse and have not had the soil exchanged, but yes added to and fertilized, and it gets only occasional deep soaking from soaker hoses..no over head water..and i have not had a single blemish on any of my many varied tomatos at all this year..they are spotless and well formed and gorgeous !!!

there are also peppers and a few herbs growing in the tiny 6 x 8 greenhouse..it will provide all the tomatos we will need for fresh and for canned or frozen....and i'm very satisfied..

also tried white tomatoes for the first time this year and they are good..i was surprised..probably not as nutritious but planted them to share with a 6 year old..so they were a novel idea..and it turned out well..i also have orange and yellow tomotoes as well as the normal reds..and seedless for the hubby that can't tolerate seeds.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 20452
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Trees are a huge benefit to nearly any garden.  Especially taprooted trees.

Tomatoes ....  need all the sun they can get.  Most edibles do not need full sun, but tomatoes are sun pigs.  So a tree that is north of a tomato and doesn't shade it at all is a good tree for a tomato.

 
Gwen Lynn
Posts: 736
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My tomato jury is still out.

I didn't get my tomatoes in the ground until the 3rd week of May. Unfortunately, I (impulse) bought Bonnie plants. Then I found some other plants at a local produce stand. I have both growing currently. IF the plants I bought at the were labeled correctly, I am growing a heirloom called Cherokee Purple. I almost hate to say this, (fingers crossed) SO FAR, I don't appear to have a blight, but maybe it hasn't taken hold yet. I have at least 50 green tomatoes on the vine, not counting the cherry tomatoes. We've had some gnarly hot weather, but had heavy rain too. I guess we'll l see what happens...

Here is a link with some good pix of tomato (late) blight:
http://www.hort.cornell.edu/department/Facilities/lihrec/vegpath/photos/lateblight_tomato.htm
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I experienced the full fury of the blight in NY this summer.

I had 350 tomato plants, 12 different cultivars.  I had 600 potato plants from 14 cultivars.  Every single tomato and potato was laid waste.  From the first dark splotch I saw on a purple russian tomato to the death of all these plants was about 3 weeks. 

For organic control I used 48 hour aerobic compost and worm casting tea, applied as fast as I could make it.  I started by spraying as many plants as I could until I ran out of juice.  With successive batches, I started with the healthiest plants, working my way down until I ran out of juice.  The tea may have slowed down the spread of the disease across the field, but once a group of plants showed lesions, it was all over in a few days.

Another method was tearing off the diseased leaves of affected plants.  This was an attempt to buy time for fruit on the vine to ripen.  Plants from which I tore off leaves held out longer because the air circulation was improved with the removal of the canopy of leaves.  Still, it was a lost cause.

Tomato plants were grouped with 10-50 plants of a single cultivar all together separated by 25-100 feet to the next group of tomatoes.  The smaller fruited plants put up the best fight.  I was able to get some red fig ripened, but barely enough for a couple of salads.  The cherry tomato was from seed given me by the amish family out back.  They save their own seed but the name of the cultivar is unknown.  The cherry tomato outlasted all other tomato plants but finally succumbed.

Potato plants offered better results because I had 4 cultivars planted severl hundred feet away from the main field.  They were the first plant to go in and the last to show spots.  When I saw the first spot on the segregated plants, I dropped what I was doing and harvested what I could from these 140 plants.  I brought in about 200 pounds of potatoes, washed them immediately and spread in single layers on trays.  The trays were stored in a finished room in the barn on a cool concrete floor with good air flow.  I checked these potatoes daily.  3 days was all it took for some of the potato to show dark lesions.  These were removed immediately.  By the 5th day, about a third of the potatoes were turned to mush.  After 2 weeks, about 2/3 of the crop was destroyed in storage. 

As for the potato plants in the main field, they were wiped out in a week.  The first planted potatoes were russian banana fingerlings.  The new potatoes were about the size of my thumb.  The rest of the cultivars went in later than these fingerlings, no production yet.

The disappointment is hard to put into words.  I understand why the amish pray after they sow their fields.

In early August the floor of the amish auction should have had hundreds of boxes of tomatoes.  One day there were 2 half bushel boxes, and they were not full. 
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Since annual agriculture is a worse blight on the landscape(bucolic plauge),I gotta side with the blight on this one.Blights unite against agriculture!!!
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 315
Location: Upstate SC
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Haven't had any early or late blight this year on either the spring/summer potatoes or summer tomatoes.  Currently have winter/spring potatoes and spring tomatoes growing in the cold frames with no sign of leaf blight.
 
Bring me the box labeled "thinking cap" ... and then read this tiny ad:
Learn, Design, Teach, & Inspire with Permaculture games.
FoodForestCardGame.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!