The Q&A Archives: leaves on tomatoe plants

Question: My tomato plants produced tomatoes, but all the leaves crumbled and turned brown. I watered the plants at the base of the plants. What is wrong, what did I do wrong?

Answer: Tomatoes and potatoes are subject to fungal diseases called blight. Early blight shows up early in the growing season; late blight shows up late in the season. Blight is an annual problem for most gardeners. It normally develops into a problem when plants have a heavy fruit set and the area has received rainfall (or you're watering from above). Spores from the fungus are spread to the lower foliage by wind and splashing rain. Leaves must be wet for infection to occur. At 50 degrees F. the leaves must be wet for 12 hours for infection, but at temperatures above 59 degrees F., the length of time for infection is only 3 hours. Leaf spot development is most severe during periods of cloudy days and high humidity. To control the fungus, foliage applications of a fungicide must be made every 7 days until moist conditions (dew included!) no longer exist. Applications should begin when the first fruit is slightly larger than a quarter. Chlorothalonil (Ortho Multipurpose Fungicide or Fertilome Broad Spectrum Fungicide) and mancozeb hydroxide (Kocide 101) are fungicides which can be used on tomatoes. Be sure to rotate your crops so that tomatoes are not grown in the same spot year after year. Best wishes with your garden!

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