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Blighted Tomato Pics – How To Tell the Difference Between Early Blight and Late Blight

By: Everett S
Green Tomato Salsa

You can use green tomatoes for lots of things. Our favorite is salsa!

It has been a wet, wet, wet year around here. I am not exaggerating when I say we did not have more than five or six days without any rain all summer. It is finally drying up, but a little too late for the tomatoes, which were blighted before we ever picked our first fruit. I sprayed neem on them twice, which allowed us to get a red tomato or two, but most of the tomatoes ended up in green salasa.

Early blight seems to be a little less deadly around here in the Blue Ridge mountains, but I did see it this year. There were large concentric circular spots in the middle of the leaves. I pinched off the ones that were affected and that seemed to do the trick. Late blight, on the other hand, is an automatic death sentence for our tomato plants, and starts off with similar circular spots, but on the edges of the leaves. The best solution is prevention (keep plants high and dry; remove affected leaves or plants ASAP), but I’m not afraid to use an organic fungicidal spray like neem oil if I have to in order to save an entire crop of tomato plants.

Early blight has just a few spots per leaf from 1/4 to 1/2 inches in diameter with tan centers and yellow edges. Late blight appear at first near the edges of the leaf and start out pale green, turning brown to purplish to black. Sometimes fuzzy spores appear on the undersides of leaves, which means the fungus is reproducing and spreading.

Tomato BlightsI staked up the plants early in the year to keep them off the damp ground, but since we had ferns and lady slippers growing in our garden this year, it was more than wet enough for the spores to glide in on the evening fog and cover the garden.

Here are a few tomato blight pictures in case you don’t know what it looks like —>

Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) affects potato plants too, and was responsible for the Great Famine of Ireland in 1740/41, in which about a million people died of starvation, many more having left the country to find food. Needless to say, we also harvested our potatoes early this year.

Early and late blights are fungal diseases that attack tomatoes and potatoes. The best way to keep from getting blight is to have your plants high and dry. That is one of many reasons why I’m a fan of raised beds. If you do end up finding the spots on your plants, quickly remove the diseased spots and dispose of the material. You should burn it in most climates suitable to tomatoes. Around here up in the mountains it is said to winter kill. I still like to burn it though, just in case. I don’t trust my compost pile to get rid of it since the spores like it warm and moist, but I’ve heard of people relying on a hot compost pile to kill it off.

You should also give your plants plenty of space, and prune them to open up the centers. The more air flow the better, generally.

Blighted Tomatoes

This is how a late blighted tomato plant looks.

If you don’t catch it in time it will spread and kill the entire plant within a matter of days…

Late Blight

Once late blight hits your plant you don’t have long before the entire thing melts away before your eyes, like on a sunny morning after a hard frost.

Do you have any blight stories or remedies to share? I’ve heard of using pennies, but our friend Anna says it isn’t very effective.

Category: Farming & Gardening, Food, The Transplants

Comments (4)

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  1. Anna says:

    I’ve been slowly selecting for the most blight-resistant varieties, and was amazed to see that both Crazy and a yellow roma have fought through late blight and seem to be winning! The other plants completely died and have been pulled out, but the resistant varieties still have green tops and are ripening tomatoes. Of the two, Crazy is the most resistant, still blooming and setting fruits. I may need to plant more than one Crazy tomato as insurance in later years since we tend to have a bad blight year 25% of the time around here.

  2. Everett says:

    Anna do the tomatoes that ripened on vines with some blight taste the same? I’m going to have to try those varieties!

  3. Anna says:

    Tomatoes from blighted vines are never as sweet, but the Crazy are nearly up to pre-blight standards. Let me know if you want any seeds — I always have extras. :-)

  4. […] to can up the rest of our green tomatoes. The past garden year was pretty rough on tomatoes with the blight, and we were able to save most of ours in the green stage before they started to harden and brown. […]

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