Blight-Resistant Tomato Varieties Worth Growing

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Healthy tomatoes not affected by blight

Even though our gardens are more than three thousand miles apart, GrowVeg founder Jeremy Dore and I experienced similar tomato miracles in our gardens last year: the plants did not die. Eventually they did, of course, but with the help of special genes, the plants did not melt down with late blight following periods of rainy weather. We both grew blight-resistant tomato varieties for the first time, and now we can't wait to try more of these naturally healthy tomatoes.

First let's clarify what we mean by "blight." Tomatoes in a wide range of climates are bothered by early blight (Alternaria solani), a fungal disease that causes dark spots to form on the lowest leaves. Early blight needs damp leaf surfaces to prosper, so the shaded leaves low down on the plant, which dry slowly, wither from early blight while lovely new growth continues higher up, where sunshine and wind keep the leaves comparatively dry. Evidence of this extremely common disease are plants with withered foliage to about 18 inches (46 cm) from the ground, with healthy green growth higher up. Early blight weakens tomato plants but does not kill them.

Tomatoes affected by early blight

Late blight does kill tomato plants, and once the killing starts there is no stopping it. Caused by a fungus-like oospore, late blight (Phytophthera infestans) also devastates potatoes. Unlike early blight, late blight on tomatoes develops later in the summer, and always following a period of prolonged rain. Moisture and plenty of it is required to bring late blight to life, but problems have become much more widespread in recent years, especially in the north and eastern US, where late blight of tomato has gone from being an occasional problem to a constant concern.

Enter new varieties imbued with two or more genes that give them excellent resistance to late blight, and some resistance to early blight, too. And not to worry, these genes were manipulated using traditional breeding techniques, mostly under the direction of Dr. Randy Gardner, Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University, who has been breeding better tomatoes for more than 30 years. Gardner and his team began making progress with blight resistance in the late 1980s, but their great gift to the gardening world came in 2010, when they released an ensemble of breeding lines with multigenic resistance to both blights to anyone who wanted to work with them.

Randy Gardner made great progress with blight resistance for tomatoes

The variety I grew, 'Mountain Magic', came directly from Gardner's program, but several more blight- resistant tomato varieties show the finishing touches of other breeders – including home gardeners who work with heirlooms. In 2012, when researchers in New York evaluated late blight tolerance in 35 tomato varieties, the winners were an interesting mix of hybrids ('Defiant', 'Plum Regal', 'Mountain Magic 'and 'Mountain Merit') and heirlooms 'Lemon Drop', 'Matt's Wild Cherry', and 'Mr. Stripey' (also called Tigerella). More recently, super-resistant 'Iron Lady' was added to the list, along with 'Jasper', a tasty red cherry. See the alphabetized list below of these blight-resistant tomato varieties.

The Troubled Trans-Atlantic Crossing

While US gardeners have plenty of choices among disease-resistant tomatoes, the only up-to-date variety available in the UK appears to be 'Jasper', which has earned an RHS Award of Merit. The variety Jeremy grew with such excellent results was 'Fantasio', which likely has single-gene resistance to late blight. An older hybrid, 'Ferline', fits into the same category; it will hold up under light disease pressure but will succumb when things get really bad. US-bred 'Legend' is also recommended to UK gardeners for its disease resistance, but it never emerged as a winner in the US, probably due to its single-gene resistance.

Until European seed companies start selling the vastly improved new American varieties, the most economical option for gardeners in the UK and other countries who want to try them is to have a friend buy seeds in the US (from Jung or Johnny's, for example), and send them on. If you were traveling from outside the EU, you would be allowed to bring back up to five packets of commercially-packaged seeds, and the same import policy appears to apply to mailed seeds. One US seed company, Tomato Growers Supply Company, will ship international orders for a flat special handling fee of $12 USD.

Tomato 'Magic Mountain'

Blight-Resistant Tomato Varieties for 2014

  • Defiant – Determinate (bush) plants produce round, medium size red fruits, rated at 70 days to maturity.
  • Iron Lady – Determinate (bush) plants produce round, medium size red fruits, rated at 75 days to maturity.
  • Jasper – Tall indeterminate (cordon) plants bear trusses of red cherry tomatoes starting 60 days after planting. An All America Selections winner and RHS Award of Merit.
  • Lemon Drop – Indeterminate (cordon) plants bear hundreds of small yellow-green tomatoes in 80 to 90 days. Open-pollinated heirloom variety, a sport of 'Snow White' cherry.
  • Matt's Wild Cherry – Sprawling indeterminate (cordon) plants bear scads of tiny red cherry tomatoes starting 55 to 60 days after planting. Open-pollinated heirloom from Mexico.
  • Mountain Magic – Vigorous indeterminate (cordon) large red cherry tomatoes, rated at 75 days to maturity.
  • Mountain Merit – Determinate plants produce large red round fruits about 75 days after planting. An All-America Selection winner.
  • Mr. Stripey – Indeterminate (cordon) plants produce medium size round fruits marbled with red and yellow in about 80 days. Open pollinated heirloom.
  • Plum Regal – Determinate plants produce red plum tomatoes weighing 3 to 4 ounces each, rated at 80 days to maturity.

By Barbara Pleasant

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Comments

 
"where can i get these resistant types of tomatoes in Africa and Particularly Uganda? "
MWESIGWA GEOFREY on Monday 20 January 2014
"I suggest asking a friend in the States to buy the seeds and mail them to you. Tomato Growers will send orders anywhere in the world, but they cannot guarantee that incoming customs will let them through in every country."
Barbara Pleasant on Tuesday 21 January 2014
"I live in western Maine. Late blight was a problem one year but my real problem here is early blight. No matter what I do my plants get it so finding plants with some resistance is important. Lately our summers have been very strange - lots of cool wet weather followed by lots of heat, humidity, and heavy downpours and not all that much sun. It's not uncommon anymore to have 11" of rain in June and another 8" in July. Which is a real change over the past. Junes, which used to be sunny are now a gray, wet month sometimes continuing into mid-July. By that time disease has set in and there's nothing that can be done. So last year I tried Iron Lady tomatoes. They were resistant to early blight. I was unable to spray them (or any tomatoes) because we got rain most every day until August. The plants were strong and covered with lots of decent sized tomaotes. That stayed green for so long I though they'd never ripen. All my other tomatoes had come and gone and the Iron Lady was still hard green. Finally in September they started to ripen, very slowly. I also thought they were pretty mealy and not all that great tasting. They were not juicy and reminded me of those cello pack grocery store tomatoes. I ended up giving all of them away. Hopefully the variety will be improved to keep the blight resistance and add in some juicy sweetness that I expect from fresh, homegrown tomatoes."
Susan Meeker-Lowry on Saturday 8 February 2014
"Which "Mr. Stripey?" There are two. One is a large, yellow/red bicolor fleshed type similar to German Yellow, Georgia Streak, Hillbilly, etc. The other is a smaller, red tomato with yellow skin stripes (gs type). Two different animals. Which is "blight resistant?""
Bill on Friday 25 April 2014
"The Cornell study does not specify its seed source, so I have no answer, only confusion. Most of the seed sold as Mr. Stripey appears to be for a large-fruited beefsteak type, with occasional suggestions that Mr. S is the same as Tigerella, which has much smaller fruits. Please chime in if you have noticed late blight tolerance in these or other OP varieties."
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 28 April 2014
"My tomatoes here in the UK have late blight for the first time so I have read your article about resistant varieties with interest and will try to get some for next year. I have removed about a kilo of diseased fruit but still have some, as yet, unblemished ones slowly ripening. Do you know if they are safe to eat? I may pick them and try to ripen them indoors."
Pat on Sunday 7 September 2014
"A note on the Mr. Stripey tomato plant...I grew them last year and will say that after pretty much every other plant in our tomato bed had withered and died, that plant was still there, green and growing strong. The only problem was....it had hardly any fruit on it. Literally, less than 10 tomatoes all season (and that estimate feels very generous). I didn't do a whole lot to prevent it from flowering or to keep fruit from producing, it just seemed to not grow a whole lot. I had heard that this was an issue with this variety after I had already purchased the seedling and thought I would give it a try anyway since the fruit sounded so interesting. Everything else about the plant was great....but the fruit sort of seems like the point. Happy gardening everyone! By the way, I am growing in central Pennsylvania. "
Rebecca Bragg on Tuesday 30 December 2014
"In my New Jersey garden, neither Iron Lady nor Defiant were any more resistant to early blight than traditional varieties. Jasper, Matt's Wild Cherry, and Mountain Magic were, however, somewhat more resistant. And an heirloom named Old Brooks also shows resistance. I strongly recommend thick mulch and spacing plants 4 feet apart. Finally, I tried the straw bale method for half my crop this year and it helped resist the early blight. See http://strawbalegardens.com/"
George on Wednesday 31 December 2014
"We grew mr. Stripey here in western ny last year and also suffered a severe case of early blight. We had over 50 plants and after all the Cherokee purple, brandy wine, and a few others I don't recall had died off the mr. Stripey was a strong vigorous plant. We also had a very weak yield- less than a dozen tomatoes on each plant and they were later than the other varieties. The fruits on ours were yellow with green then red striping and quite large."
Mrs.Rider on Friday 6 March 2015
"I meant to say that we suffered both early and late blight. The early we got through but the late blight wiped us out. We had started our plants indoors very early so they fruited early thankfully and we were able to get a lot canned but we had to work fast. Blight is just devastating!"
Mrs.Rider on Friday 6 March 2015
"I live in northern new York looking for the best blight resistant tomato plant to grow"
lee baxter on Tuesday 7 April 2015
"no wind, dampness, heat...good environment for blight to spread among plants...this year plan to try wood chip mulch and also use a leaf blower to blow away dampness after rain or heavy dew, esp lower part of tomato plants...also may try for first time milk spray around bottom of plants and soil...we will see"
roy on Friday 1 May 2015
"This year in my NJ garden I plan to continue using straw bales for some tomato plants, space the others 4 feet apart, and use heavy mulch. For the first time, I'm going to try the aspirin treatment: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2625661/Problems-growing-tomatoes-Feed-ASPIRIN-say-scientists-fight-disease-boost-yield.html"
George on Sunday 10 May 2015
"just about any tomato is disease free including blights if the soil is right...i think we seem to learn to treat things, when we should be learning the to cure problem....we are to much like most doctors, treating instead of curing....we need american leaders to listen to people like elaine ingham and also tap into some foreign methods of farming and water problems...ex: EM1 ETC...WE HAD BETTER WAKE UP SOON...THE INDIAN"
roy willmond on Thursday 18 June 2015
"While I agree with you, Roy, in principle - in reality with limited garden space that has enough sun I (and probably others) have to do the best we can. I don't have the ability to rotate my tomatoes so they're in a different bed each year for 3 to 5 years before going back into the first one. And we simply cannot control the weather. Some years are better than others and tomatoes, here in New England are quite susceptible to various ills, most especially for me, early blight. My soil grows everything else just fine. Tomatoes are the only plant that consistently has issues."
Susan Meeker-Lowry on Friday 19 June 2015
"Susan, elaine ingham says you can grow crops in same spot year after year with no problem if your soil is right...study, study...to me healthy soil is full of earth worms and they thrive in it...one key is to keep soil damp year around...not just talking about watering, but compost in soil and mulch etc...good compost tea sprayed on plants early in am helps fight plant diseases...hope this inspires you to keep trying...the indian"
roy on Saturday 20 June 2015
"Roy, I differ with Ms Ingham because yes, you can replace nutrients, but you cannot stop the buildup of pathogenic fungi when you plant the same annual in the same spot year after year. And please, do show me a model from Nature in which she brews up fungi and bacteria in liquid form with which to drench plants, as is done with compost tea. With no science (many studies tried and failed to prove its worth) and no natural model, I think compost tea applied to leaves is very questionable."
Barbara Pleasant on Saturday 20 June 2015
"I agree with Barbara: the healthiest soil in the world will not stop the fungi build up in the soil. The problem with crop rotation even if you have enough space to do a 5 year rotation is that the early blight spores are airborne. Unless you can move hundreds of feet, you won't see much benefit from crop rotation."
George on Saturday 20 June 2015
"George, I agree completely with the value of rotation for the diseases in question here because these tomato blights do not persist in soil. But with many other diseases that do persist in soil from year to year and attack plant roots (the fusariums come to mind), rotation limits their potential to grow to damaging levels."
Barbara Pleasant on Saturday 20 June 2015
"Everything I've read about early blight says that it persists in the soil. It's also spread by wind and rain, and occasionally insects like flea beetles. My soil is very healthy, full of earthworms and each spring I add lots of compost as well as during the growing season, and other things (like lime and organic fertilizer when planting out individual plants and on the beds where seeds go). The only plants I have consistent problems with, and always early blight, never any of the other common diseases, are my tomatoes. Sure, occasionally I'll lose a bean plant or two or something else but generally the cause is an insect pest or too much heavy rain that can be pretty easily identified. So each year I plant my tomatoes with as much optimism as possible, and mulch of various sorts to try to prevent soil from splashing up onto the plants during heavy rain. The early blight always arrives, generally by mid to late July when the plants are setting fruits and I do my best to keep them alive so I get a half-way decent crop anyway. "
Susan Meeker-Lowry on Saturday 20 June 2015
"Susan, try Jasper, Old Brooks, and Mountain Magic; they get early blight but not as severely as other varieties. Oh, Matt's Wild Cherry is tolerant as well."
George on Saturday 20 June 2015
"healthy plants can fight off diseases etc...let me ask a question...when you pull up your tomato plant, how big is the root system....healthy plant roots run deep...4 and 5 feet and way deeper and are white looking...every nutrient a plant needs is in healthy soil...we don't need to add anything including organic fertilizer...healthy plants are resistent to bugs and bad insects, they do not like the high brix level so move on...one thing to consider if growing in containers is using air prune pots...you can make your own...when you pull a plant out you have a solid root system top to bottom of container...the roots prune themselves when they hit the air...roots will not circle around and around....just trying to get some of you to thinking and studying...the indian"
roy on Saturday 20 June 2015
"I do have some Mountain Magic out there this year, and my Sungold Cherry are more resistant as well and continue producing way into fall. One problem I have here is my soil is basically sand. Over the past 20+ years I've added lots and lots of organic matter to it, and really a lot when I first put the garden in, but it's basically river bottom land so nutrients don't stay when we get heavy downpours which we do often (though so far this summer, not so much). Even though I have raised beds. The upside is when we do get lots of rain my beds absorb it. The downside is the nutrients leave quickly. Re: my roots - it depends on the year. Some years the root systems are nice and healthy, some years not as much. The tomatoes in the grow bags always do better than ones in the ground. I have some of those large feltish grow bags I bought when they first came out and plant some tomatoes in them, and some in one of the garden beds. I got them for potatoes, which they were advertised for at the time but they did just terrible in them so now I used them for tomatoes and I move them all over the yard to keep them away from each other. Hoping that will make a difference. But in the end, I get what I get and it's just my sister and I now, so it's okay."
Susan Meeker-Lowry on Saturday 20 June 2015
"Susan do a study on biochar...helps hold water and nutrients in soil...small area you can buy lump charcoal, pure charcoal, nothing added...or learn to make your own and how to crush it up and precharge it...once added you don't have to do this again...and mulch mulch mulch...don't bury it...wood chips is one way to go...the indian "
roy on Sunday 21 June 2015
"BARBARA...I notice you said you cannot stop pathogenic problems in soil...you need to study about EM ...other countries like japan where it was invented are doing just that...here is a link to make you think...http://w4sp.com/em/ we may all use this one day to help turn the world's problems around...the indian"
roy on Monday 22 June 2015
"Talk about growing stuff in same spot year after year...you should check out L2survive.com....grew potatoes in same place for 26 years and still going...he also harvested and planted potatoes the same day...amazing....the key, WOOD CHIPS year after year...just add to top of soil, do not turn them under...the chips after time turn back into soil...look around you, observe nature at work....we work to hard and buy stuff we don't need...like plows, garden tools, hybrid and gmo junk.....get good heirloom seeds and learn how to save them and replant as long as you live....the idian...i know some of you think i am crazy...that's okay...I still pray GOD will bless you... "
roy on Thursday 25 June 2015
"CORRECTION TO LAST ENTRY: the indian...thanks"
roy on Thursday 25 June 2015
"Update from my NJ garden. The aspirin treatment seemed to make no difference. The straw bales are not working as well as last year. I think next year I'm going to space even farther apart, grow fewer plants, to encourage air circulation and mulch, mulch, mulch. Best resistance this year are Old Brooks, Mountain Magic, and Jasper."
George on Saturday 8 August 2015
"Of the F1 and heirloom varieties that showed blight resistance which would people say had the best taste? Thank you."
Daisy Andrews on Monday 14 September 2015
"This year in NJ I tried two "new" heirloom varieties supposed to be blight tolerant: Black Krim and Mr. Stripey. Both proved reasonably tolerant. Black Krim was more robust with more tomatoes. BK has traditional rich tomato taste. Mr. S is sweeter. Jasper is sweet but very tomato-y. Mountain Magic and Old Brooks also did reasonably well against blight and both have traditional tomato flavor. My favorite both for taste and robustness was Black Krim. Will plant more than 1 plant of BK next year."
George on Monday 14 September 2015
"Many thanks for your feedback George. Black Krim is my absolute favourite tomato also. Just had some for lunch today :) However, it's raining so much in the UK at the moment, am worried about losing the rest to late blight. Might bring on some of the varieties you suggest above alongside the Black Krim next year.. "
Daisy on Monday 14 September 2015
"I grew 10 Iron Lady Plants in the garden this year. Even with early application of a fungicide they were the first plants to go down with early blight. Even before the heirlooms. Very disappointing"
Kevin Lawton on Thursday 17 September 2015
"Yes, my experience with Iron Lady mirrors Kevin's. After a one year test, I threw out the remaining seeds. They get the blight very bad and don't taste very good. "
George on Saturday 19 September 2015
"Daisy, I hope you don't lose your Black Krim crop to late blight. George"
George on Saturday 19 September 2015
"Thank you George! As of today they seem to be weathering the rain and we are eating or sharing them as soon as they are ripe. Had two delicious Krim plus a fiorentino convoluto in a lovely lunchtime tomato salad. Daisy"
Daisy Andrews on Saturday 19 September 2015
"I lost all my tomato crop to late blight this year - except Matt's Wild Cherry and it is a great tasting sweet little tomato. "
Phil Evans on Monday 28 September 2015
"I've been growing Matt's Wild Cherry for 20 years and agree that it is blight tolerant and great tasting. Jasper is a relatively new hybrid that is more tolerant of the blight, produces more tomatoes, and tastes almost as good."
George on Tuesday 13 October 2015
"Tomato update, New Jersey, USA, October 15. Grew Black Krim for first time --- delicious, productive (two dozen or so from one plant); totally killed by early blight by end of season but who cares? Mr. Stripey is supposed to have natural tolerance and it did OK; reasonably productive, very sweet. Mountain Magic had best disease resistance; good flavor. Tried an old favorite, Park's Whopper --- very good flavor, decent tolerance of blight. Jasper produced hundreds and hundreds of cherry tomatoes; very good disease tolerance; excellent flavor. You really should try Jasper if you haven't. "
George on Saturday 17 October 2015
"I have been growing all my tomatoes in the same small plot since 2005, with only occasional additions of toppings with new layers of organic compost. The plot is infested by early blight, septoria, and grey leaf mold, mainly,. I've been growing an extensive list of heirlooms, old commercial standards, modern hybrids, and several lines of my own custom hybrids and subsequent recombination from the customhybrids. I do not use fungicides so that I can assess which types resist or sufficiently tolerate variousfungal blights. Cherokee Purple and Indian Stripe will tolerate early blight and generally outgrow the problem and yield well. Indian Stripe is slightly more resilient, more heat tolerant, and more productive. Red Brandywine, Landis Valley Strain will outgrow Septoria and Early Blight without getting spots on the fruit. I have made a few custom crosses that fair well against the 3 foliage fungal I deal with: Mozark x Sioux F1 and subsequent selections from several filial generations have done very well. (Mozark x Sioux) x Neptune is nearly bulletproof, but I have had to be careful to select for acceptable fruit texture in subsequent filial generations. An old Univ. of Florida determinate type that has been used as a base input for many many breeding lines is Walter, which I grew for the first time this year. It did great against all odds in the worst year ever for fungal disease heat, rain, and humidity. Nasty year for tomatoes. But I grew Walter in pots because it has no resistance to verticillium wilt. A very good tangerine type salad/slicer from North Carolina state Univ is Carolina Gold. Never had a problem with it and it also resistant to grey wall, a disease problem generally for other tangerine types like Jubilee and varieties based on Jubilee."
Bill Jeffers on Saturday 17 October 2015
"I can add more comments about heirloom types, old commercial standards, and custom crosses if y'all are interested; but I have to type on my phone which is a PITA. Right now, I am on a laptop, but the WIFI is sketchy in this hotel on weekends. There are a few other heirlooms that are tolerant of EB, Septoria, and other fungals; but the tolerance varies with weather conditions, e.g., how long cool, wet periods last, how quickly foliage dries off toward midday, etc., etc., and how well you set your plants up for air flow thru the garden ... pruning, spacing, etc. I started my hobby breeding for disease tolerance in 2008 after visiting the West Indies, and wanting to supply open pollinated tomato types to friends on one particular island where hybrid seed is outrageously expensive. Most of the types I worked with in the project are determinate or semi-determinate growth pattern types because tradewinds make growing indeterminates rather problematic. Neptune was my base for tolerance to Bacterial wilt and fully determinate growth pattern. It also is a great heatset type and produces fruit early, like 68 DTM from transplant in 6a/6b for me. I've also crossed modern hybrids x heirloom and heritage types with some successes. One of the better crosses for fungal tolerance has been Cherokee Purple x Summerpink, from which I have a few stable lines now that really do well against EB and Septoria ... tolerant, not resistant ... but grow robustly ahead of the advancing spores, and usually will produce fruit effectively above the diseased foliage. That is the real key, if you do not have truly resistant varieties, to concentrate on varieties that grow robustly enough to advance their fruit set and fruit maturity ahead of the fungal infestations that move up the vine from the lower foliage. And pray for warmer, drier weather! I have zero experience with Late Blight, so all my comments should be taken with regard only to Early Blight, Septoria leaf spot, grey leaf mold, grey wall, and a few other fungal problems which I have not yet identified positively."
Bill Jeffers on Saturday 17 October 2015
"Thanks so much for sharing your work, Bill. The Neptune variety is now on my radar for its interesting disease resistance package. Like you, I have lost blight-resistant plants to bacterial wilt more than once."
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 19 October 2015
"I graft Mr Stripey, Black Krim and Mortgage Lifter on Big Beef rootstock. Tha results have been phenomenal. I am high desert sand,nuclear sun, no rain, 4,400 ft elevation. Last frost this year was June 6 and first frost was September 9. I water when the soil/sand will not ball up at 5". OR whenever the temp goes above 90 f. My groundwater temp is 52f so it does a great job of evaporativen cooling OR warming the plants When an unexpected cold.snap hits. Just my two cents"
Paul on Thursday 29 October 2015
"you mean your tomato seed is resistant to hoy weather and rain if so i loke to buy some for trial"
Bashir Liman on Saturday 31 October 2015
"I have many of the same disease challenges that Bill Jeffers notes and like Bill I've noticed that vigorous growing plants will produce well for a while ahead of the advancing Septoria / EB though eventually they will succumb before the end of the season. I am in zone 4b and generally transplant into wall of waters around May 7-10. Plants bear well in July and August but then succumb in early September a month before my frost. I am thinking of staggering my plantings and putting in a second flight of tomatoes in mid June to see if I can get tomatoes in September and October. Will the second set also stand a chance of outgrowing the fungal diseases or will they just get sick faster from the older tomato plants that are infected with Septoria? Btw, I've tried Jasper and Mountain Magic and can recommend both. They haven't solved my problems, probably bc they are not resistant to Septoria but they are nice insurance against LB. Final question: my ground cherries seem completely resistant to the diseases affecting my tomatoes; are conventional breeders trying to figure out whether this resistance can be imported into tomatoes?"
Jeff Lubell on Saturday 7 November 2015
"Jeff, 'Matt's Wild Cherry' is extremely blight resistant and is used by many breeders, but most gardeners want larger fruits. Later planting of some plants will help, because high summer temperatures reduce disease pressure. In your Zone I would not wait later than May 1 to start your late plants from seed. "
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 9 November 2015
"I didn't see anything about the fungus, Verticillium Wilt, that has made it impossible for me to grow healthy tomatoes. While it is called a soil-based disease, I know that it gets air-borne because of all the efforts I've made to move it around by property, and keep it out of the ground by using containers that I have scrubbed with disinfectant. Does a VW-resistant variety REALLY exist? I've tried so many that were labeled "VW-Resistant" that died of it."
Anne Layzer on Wednesday 17 February 2016
"I'm located in central Alberta, Canada. Five or six years ago, blight had devastated the regions tomato and potato production. Our forty some tomato plants had turned black and melted away while laden in heavy crop, all I could do is throw my hands up in the air and concede defeat! I searched online and came across 'Defiant' and found a Canadian supplier that offered the seeds at a reasonable price. I couldn't help but be sceptical of 'Defiant' being both disease resistant and actually tasting good ... well, it ended up exceeding our expectations! Firstly, yes, these plants have thrived when others nearby have succumb to blight and 'Defiant' IS tasty and productive and plants are easy to prune if one is inclined to do so. So, I really must applaud the breeding work of this fine tomato variety! "
Terry on Wednesday 9 March 2016
"HAS ANYONE TRIED WHOLE GROUND CORN MEAL TO FIGHT BLIGHT? LIKE RED MILL OR HODGES.....THIS SEASON PLAN TO EXPERIMENT WITH SILICA...ROCK DUST MILK....ABOUT 1 OR 2 TEASPOON OF DUST TO A QUART....WILL MAKE PLANTS EXTRA TOUGH I THINK AND SUPPLY MINERALS...SPRINKLE CORN MEAL AROUND PLANT WHEN WHEN PLANTING"
ROY on Wednesday 9 March 2016
"MAR 9 ENTRY....THE MILK DUST WILL BE SPRAYED ONTO WHOLE PLANT POSSIBLY EVERY WEEK OR TWO WEEKS"
ROY on Wednesday 9 March 2016
"Terry, thanks for the report on Defiant. Hopefully others will try it...Roy, your measures might have an effect on early blight, but not late blight which comes in on windblown rain. "
Barbara Pleasant on Wednesday 9 March 2016
"I tried Defiant for 3 years in my NJ garden and it was the first to succumb to early blight. Mountain Magic, Jasper, Old Brooks, and Mr. Stripey were reasonably tolerant."
George on Saturday 12 March 2016
"Verticillium Wilt isn't caused by a bacterium; it's caused by a fungus, and there seem to be many fewer remedies for funguses than other pathogens. "
Anne,Layzer on Sunday 13 March 2016
"FUNGUS...CHANGE PH, UP OR DOWN.... "
ROY on Sunday 13 March 2016
"ROY: Thanks for the corneal idea. Gonna try it. certainly can't hurt. "
Paul on Sunday 13 March 2016
"Has the milk dust worked?"
z on Friday 22 July 2016
"You connected me via email to this article on tomato blight, but my problem has been verticillium wilt. Did you connect me to the blight article because you think the two diseases are related? "
Anne Layzer on Friday 22 July 2016
"I plant my tomatoes and cucumbers in garden frames. But every year, early blight is a big problem. I add fresh garden soil every year and fertilize regularly. This year I have been using Dacinol spray and it has helped some. I am in SW Michigan and when we get the weeks of hot and humid conditions the blight just takes off. My plants are huge and look wonderful but the blight in starting on the bottom leaves as usual. I cannot mulch with wood chips, since we get infested with ear wigs. Any thing wood from tables to chairs to wood bird feeders just attracts them like crazy. Can you explain the comments about cornmeal? How much do you use and why does it help?"
Alison Libby on Saturday 23 July 2016
"Anne, you are right in that the two diseases are very different. Verticillium infects plants through the roots, while blights are foliar diseases. There is no cure for V, but good prevention by using resistant varieties. Alison, please see the blog on earwigs, and try using the homemade oil traps. They catch huge numbers every night. You can use scissors or pruning shears to clip off all of the tomato foliage within 16 inches or so from the ground. If the leaves are not already showing early blight spots, they will be soon. Removing and composting these leaves lightens the fungal load while improving air circulation, which slows the progress of early blight."
Barbara Pleasant on Saturday 23 July 2016
"Barbara, I was so dedicated to growing tomatoes, I used to grow as many as 18 different varieties. But no more. Though VW is said to be a disease of the soil, I know that it gets airborne, too, by birds and insects and moles and wind and rain . I tried different locations in my garden; containers that had been disinfected and soil I purchased, not compost; only VW-resistant varieties; and the new grafted varieties. Even so, over many years, no tomato plant has ever escaped entirely, though cherry tomato plants have lasted longer. Not even volunteer seedlings that came from who knows? I stopped trying new things finally, because of the distress, not to mention the drought in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we live. There is partial consolation in the greater varieties that are available now in our grocery stores, thanks to all the Farmers Markets in every town, that have shown the markets the prices people are willing to pay for the really good varieties. I'm still hoping for a cure, but funguses are really very difficult, in humans too."
Anne Layzer on Saturday 23 July 2016
"Is the anywhere in Australia that I could by same seeds??? "
kurt meeder on Wednesday 24 August 2016
"Lots of great info here. THANKS TO ALL"
Collin J. on Friday 10 February 2017
"My garden has been cursed for at least 20 years with Verticillium Wilt. What's the difference between a tomato wilt and a tomato blight?"
Anne Layzer on Friday 10 February 2017
"Anne, Verticillium is soil-borne and not so dependent on weather as early and late blights, which are leaf diseases. V wilt gets into the plant's vascular system through the roots, often by melting a hole in a root cell wall with enzymes. This is why resistance is such a fine tool here. Lots of great resistant varieties out there -- good luck with them!"
Barbara Pleasant on Friday 14 April 2017
"For people in the UK, Simpson's Seeds are now selling Mountain Magic and Matt's Wild Cherry as both seed and plug plants. Haven't tried them myself, but will next year given that blight is pretty much an annual event in the west country."
Philip White on Wednesday 11 October 2017
"I have grown Mountain Magic in 2017 in my garden in Denmark. A cold an rainy summer. Mountain Magic was 100% resistant to Late Blight. I have also grown Dorenia. Dorenia was less resistant than Mountain Magic, but had a good resistant. Dorenia is open pollinated.In EU we can still only buy Mountain Magic and get some of the open pollinated, that are mentioned ind your article."
Karna Maj on Sunday 14 January 2018
"Location...Western Massachusetts. Soil type...loamy and heavily enriched with compost. Lots of worms! Problems...early and late blight. 2017 tomato results. Early boy, chocolate cherry tomatoes and sungold. All produced prodigiously only to be wiped out by late blight before eating quality. Root systems extensive! 10 minutes away my father-in-law grows 40 tomatoe plants in a 10'x30' area also heavily composted BUT fenced in with solid white boards. Great success every year. No diseases . early boy and brandywine tomatoes. Wins our tomato growing contest EVERY YEAR! GRRRRRRR! Must be that solid fence protecting his plants from wind-blown rain every year! Herb J."
Herb Johnson on Friday 2 February 2018
"Hey Herb Are you growing tomatoes on the same patch of soil each year, or are you using crop rotation to reduce disease build up? I believe that blight spores overwinter in the soil so one year's blight can trigger infection of next year's crop. Where I live tomatoes have to be grown in the greenhouse rather than outdoors, and we need to change the soil every year, and wash down the greenhouse glass and timber to kill off blight spores. Eventually the plants do come down with blight from blown in spores, but that's usually well into September and most of the crop has already been picked by then."
Philip White on Friday 2 February 2018
"Hey Philip...Thanks for the input! Guess I will have to rotate as you the second person today highly suggesting I do so. Had read tomatoes one of few crops that take repetitive planting in same spot well BUT Late Blight changes all the rules I suppose. I'm also planting ONLY LB resistant variety's of tomatoes as well as putting down red crop cover to avoid splash up of possibly spore-infected soil during rains. Wish me luck! (-: Any other suggestions truly appreciated! Herb"
Herb Johnson on Friday 2 February 2018
"Hey Herb Have you tried dilute bicarbonate of soda? Someone I know near here (that's Cornwall in the UK, about the most humid part of the country), who has the same problems with blight every year, swears by it. She has even grown tomatoes outdoors, which is unheard of here. I tried it, but made the solution too strong and it burnt the plants (an alkaline chemical burn), which put me off it, but that was just my fault. The secret seems to be a very weak solution, but reapply after rain. Have a look at migardener{dot}com{slash}prevent-kill-blight-powdery-mildew-baking-soda (sorry about the mangling but it seems you can't post URLs) although their recipe sounds too strong to me. I believe that Sally (for that is her name!) mentioned 1 tablespoon per gallon. Here's hoping for a blight free year!"
Philip White on Friday 2 February 2018
"Hey Philip...No, I haven't tried DBS. Worth a try! Do you think tomato varieties with high LB resistance sufficient or go all in with guns blazing? IE, DBS, crop rotation, and red plastic sheeting on the ground around plants. I look forward to your input. BTW, I visited The Cotswold's and Dorchester some years ago. Just lovely! Cheers and Thanks! Herb"
Herb Johnson on Friday 2 February 2018
"After speaking with 4 mail-order seed companys,I finally succeeded in getting the answers I needed. I spoke with a young woman from Johnny's Selected Seeds who was familiar with my late and early blight problems. She named 4 varieties with both strong late blight resistance and excellent flavor. All indeterminate as well. Damsel...a pink slicer Cherry Bomb... 1-1/2 inch cherry Jasper, another cherry and lastly Juliet....a plum shaped saladette. She had TASTED all these and vouched for them!"
Herb Johnson on Tuesday 20 February 2018
"Thanks, Herb! Another to add to the list is Stellar, which resists late blight and Septoria leaf spot. Iron Lady and viney Jasper have a similar disease resistance package. "
Barbara Pleasant on Tuesday 20 February 2018
"Bought four potted Iron Lady plants along with five other varieties of tomato from a large reputable local greenhouse. Planted these separate from the others. All were sprayed regularly with Soap Shield Copper Spray to control any diseases and had a dose of Tomatoes Alive fertilizer. Also no tomatoes in this bed the previous years. These fared the worst of all of them. The others stayed relatively 95% disease free and these showed quite a bit more of it. The tomato harvest was great this year. Today alone I harvested twenty pounds off all the plants. Tomatoes off the Iron Ladies were just a little larger than a cherry tomato. All the other varieties looked nice and healthy and deep red. These were and have been paler than the others and the condition of the tomatoes wasn't that great. The tomatoes themselves had black spots and about 25% were garbage. Been gardening for over thirty years and even won an award for best vegetable garden in the local newspaper's circulation area. So, I know what I'm doing. Thses were probably the most disappointing of any variety I've tried."
Bob piantkowski on Saturday 8 September 2018
"Thanks for your thoughtful report, Bob! I had a disappointing experience with a new-to-me variety this year, too. You never know until you try."
Barbara Pleasant on Tuesday 11 September 2018
"After planting and harvesting all 4 aforementioned Late-Blight resistant tomatoes, here are my results. The clear winner for taste and sandwich-eating size goes hands-down to Damsel. Jasper cherry really tasty as well. The other 2 STILL good. All 4 bore well and have been eating from 16 plants since Mid. July. Planted from seed 8 weeks before planting all Memorial day weekend. Sep. 11th and plants still hearty and average 10 feet in height. No early blight like I always experienced before and leaves only yellowed from bottom AFTER I picked clean the tomatoes above them. NO Late blight as well. Just healthy, happy green plants bearing well All 16 plants planted in a raised bed with a 6 inch layer of compost a shovel depth underneath before planting. Used crab shell, compost in top 3 inches as well. Watered only 4 times during entire season! Finally, a great tomato season! Herb Johnson"
Herbert I Johnson on Tuesday 11 September 2018
"Sounds like a great year, Herb. Your tomatoes did better than mine!"
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 17 September 2018
"I've had good luck with Jasper as well. This year I planted 3 grafted plants and the rest I grew from seed. The 3 grafted plants (different varieties) all did better than almost all of the ones I grew from seed. The one exception was Fourth of July which I planted in a bed separate from the others by 100 feet and gave it plenty of organic fertilizer. It finally has some blight but I have already harvested probably 200 4 ounce fruits. Not as sweet as Jasper but good enough."
George Thomas on Monday 17 September 2018
"PS. Forgot to say that I had the same no luck with Iron Lady. Despite the claim of blight tolerance, those plants got it first and got it worst. "
George Thomas on Monday 17 September 2018
"Interesting, George! Thanks for your post."
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 17 September 2018
"Thanks Barbara! My neighbors hit with the Lblight again BUT I picked 4 more nearly 1 pound tomatoes today...Sept. 17th from my Damsel tomato plants and they are DELICIOUS! (-: No early blight still and had a big birthday party here Saturday and all people could do is say how wonderful my tomatoes looked and how they had a bad tomato year themselves. I'm convinced and my Father in Law wants me to grow the same tomatoes for HIM next year! (-: !!! Herb"
Herbert I Johnson on Tuesday 18 September 2018

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