Tomatoes are prone to various forms of harm usually resulting from weather conditions. However, one of the most common diseases of tomatoes is early blight, and that is a soil-borne problem. Symptoms include dark brown to black spots with rings on older leaves first. When the spots are many, they may develop together and cause the surrounding leaves to dry up, turn yellow, and die. Stem lesions appear on the fruit and then it rots. On older fruit, early blight causes dark sunken spots. The symptoms on tomatoes usually appear during wet periods at harvest. Contrary to its name it seldom occurs early but usually happens on mature plants. This plant disease is caused by fungus called Alternaria solani. The fungus thrives on the infected leaf or stem tissues or in the soil. Early tomato blight can be very destructive as it may result in total defoliation of your plants. It can develop rapidly in mid to late season and can get severe if the plants are stressed by drought, poor nutrition or pests. To grow fresh and luscious tomatoes, follow the corresponding steps in preventing early tomato blight.
- Plant only healthy and certified disease-free seeds and transplants.
- Apply mulch to prevent splash-up from rain. Mulching holds in moisture and keeps water from rain from splattering off the soil. It suppresses weeds and reduces water consumption. It also keeps fungus on the leaves at bay.
- Apply tillage practices to bury all plant refuse.
- Determine when and how to water the plant. Water early in the day is ideal. Avoid watering late in the afternoons or in the evenings. When you water tomato plants, be careful not to get too much water splashed up on the plant otherwise it may cause soil borne diseases. Better water from below instead of from above. To prevent splashing problem, drip irrigation is the ideal solution.
- Fertilize appropriately. Tomatoes need balanced nutrients of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous otherwise they are susceptible to early blight and other deficiencies. Proper fertilization regime should be applied.
- Avoid crowding your plants to avoid plant injury. Air circulation is crucial to preventing fungus that causes early blight.
- Clean up all fall garden debris and remove infested plant materials and weeds.
- Grow varieties that are more resistant to early blight and other diseases.
- Use fungicide at the very first sign of disease or immediately after bloom.
- If you are producing tomato transplants always practice good sanitation throughout the transplant process.
If you are new to gardening or growing fruits and vegetables, it will be very handy to get yourself acquainted with gardening techniques and gadgets. Innovative gardening procedures and tools have been discovered and designed to help you grow vegetables and fruits in your garden. Conversely, to encourage growth of healthy tomatoes and prevent early blight and other diseases, modern fertilizers and other crop management techniques are now readily available in the market.