For the past few years, I, along with many other gardeners, have been losing tomato plants to a disease called tomato and potato late blight. It is the very disease that killed the Irish potato crops in the 1800s and left so many people to starve or emigrate. Fortunately, I am not dependent on my tomatoes for my very survival, but it has been distressing to lose so many tomatoes to this ugly disease.
What I want to know is who else in the San Francisco Bay Area has been having this problem. It shows up as brown lesions on stems and leaves. Often, the stem will have a brown area with green above and below, or just part of a leaf will be brown. The fruit will have a brown, shiny surface, especially near the stem, that usually starts when the fruit is still green. The plant may turn completely brown and die
My photos of this disease aren't scanned, but I can send you to a pdf file from the University of Hawaii at Manoa that shows many photos. It is at www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-45.pdf
The only tomatoes on the home garden market that are said to have any resistance to this awful disease are Legend (resistant unless there are a lot of spores around) and Juliet hybrid (tolerant of the disease, meaning it survives). Anecdotally, something called 'Matt's Red Cherry' has been called resistant, but I don't have a source for it at the moment. Probably there are some heirlooms with some resistance, though I haven't encountered them.
So please, if you will, if you have any experience with tomato late blight in the Bay Area, send me a comment. Or if you do not have the problem, I am very interested in knowing that too! Please tell me where your garden is located--city, general part of city (as in Northwest SF, or Hills of Berkeley).
I have been making test plantings of research varieties that are supposed to be late blight resistant for several years, and none have worked yet. I am hoping to get an idea of how widespread the problem is here and maybe get some attention from tomato breeders.
Thanks for any input you can offer!