The Q&A Archives: Controlling Tomato Blight

Question: Early blight has literally destroyed my beautiful tomato plants during early summer over the last few years. Do you have any tomato varieties that are less susceptible to this disease on Long Island? I have tried using copper spray on a fairly regular basis (3-4 times during the growing sea son) but it does not seem to help. This year I will move my tomato garden to a new location and plant less plants, spacing them further apart. Do you have any further suggestions? Thank You. Bob Maurizio Hampton Bays, NY

Answer: Blight is caused by a soil-borne fungus. Here are some steps you can take to help control this problem. The first step in combating any fungal or bacterial disease is to practice good sanitation in your garden. Promptly remove and destroy any diseased plant material, keep weeds down, and rotate crops. (When you rotate crops, rotate by family--for example, potatoes and eggplant are related to tomatoes, so don't follow your tomato crop with either of those.) Keep plants well-spaced to promote goodair circulation. And if you do any pruning, sterilize tools with rubbing alcohol between cuts. You might try some of the "Mountain" varieties, developed by Dr. Randy Gardner at North Carolina State Univ., including Mountain Delight VFFA and MountainSupreme VF. These varieties have shown some resistence to blight, and are available from Tomato Growers Supply Co., PO Box 2237, Fort Meyers, FL 33902, 914-768-1119.

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