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Tomato Late Blight Report

In March, I got seed for a number of tomato varieties that someone or other said might resist tomato late blight, the awful disease, spread by airborne spores, that has been killing a lot of tomatoes in the California Bay Area for about 15 years. (and has recently been killing East Coast tomatoes as well) I planted some of them at City College, and some in my Mission District community garden. I also planted 'Stupice' tomato as a control--a plant I know gets late blight, just to be sure it's around.

The plants are bigger at City College, probably because the soil is in better shape. There are only a few blight lesions here and there on the plants. They ripened a few fruits in July, but a long foggy period in mid July through early August has meant a break in ripe fruit for now.

At Dearborn, more fruit is ripening, due to the warmer microclimate. I have lost one plant to late blight, and it is a 'Legend' tomato. This variety was bred to be late blight resistant, but clearly can't resist the strain, or the plant pathologists call it, the race, of late blight we have here. The plant is now only a couple of brown stalks. Some of the other plants have some blight lesions on stems or leaf stems, but are still bearing. The best looking plant, good color, lots of fruits, and no sign of late blight so far is one called 'Juliet'. If this one proves resistant, I will be realy pleased, because it makes nice oval fruits, like paste tomatoes but smaller, and lots of them. They are bigger than a cherry tomato though, about 1 3/4 to 2 inches long. Flavor--not too great, but they worked really well to make broiled appetizer tomatoes last night.

(Recipe: Mix 4 tablespoons of finely chopped green onions, 4 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise, and two tablespoons of finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley. Cut 6-8 small tomatoes in half. Spread/mound the cheese mixture on the halves. Broil 2-3 minutes or untill the high places on the topping just begin to brown. Serve hot as appetizer or side dish. This recipe is in my book Golden Gate Gardening.)

Anyway, I promise photos soon. And welcome any reports or photos from others who may be growing any of the varieties we grew at City College last spring.

Comments

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Pam Peirce

Thanks for the review, Jackie. I am very happy when I hear that the book is helping people grow food! I will be posting spring book release events on my blog.

Jackie

Hi Pam,

I just thought you might like to know that I've posted a (glowing!) review of your book on my blog:

http://jackiessecretgarden.blogspot.com/2009/10/book-review-golden-gate-gardening.html

Thanks for the great info you provide for all of us on the central coast! I'm looking forward to your 3rd edition.

~Jackie
P.S. I tried to email this message to you, but it was returned.

Leon

I feel your pain, Zannie. Hang in there!

Zannie

I had never had late blight before, but I've got it now (or rather my tomatoes have). I've got four plants, all from Territorial, and three of them have it, including a Legend. The one that I haven't noticed it on is a Patio. I'll have to examine it more closely to be sure though.

I haven't gotten a single tomato this year. They've been bearing just fine, but someone else gets to them before I do--mammalian, I suspect. Every single one goes as soon as it starts changing color. And I've had so much rotten luck with the garden this year that I've kind of said "to hell with it, I'll try again in the spring," so I haven't bothered sprinkling bloodmeal around, which seemed to help last time I had this problem.

And now they've got late blight. Meh.

I'm in the Inner Richmond, Clement and 8th.

Lex

I planted three varieties, sweet 100, stupice and sweet 1000 at Park Street Community Garden in a bed that hadn't had tomatoes in it for at least 5 years. The sweet 100 grew to be enormous and covered most of the bed. Unfortunately, we had some rain followed by fog in mid-september and the blight started on the sweet 100. The Sweet 100 fought the good fight, but the blight spread to the Stupice and that plant turned into a disgusting mess within days.

Is there a way to treat the soil, or will I have to wait years to plant more tomatoes?

Dan

Wow, have I been lucky. I live close to Pam and have had no problems with late blight as of yet. I have three garden store transplants going here on the north side of Potrero Hill. One plant is San Francisco Fog. Very healthy and productive in a raised bed at the rear of our property up against an east facing concrete retaining wall. After reading the above comments I did a little research and apparently much early morning sun is a good preventive step (early leaf moisture evaporation). Pure luck there. Also have two Visitation Valley plants growing high on a roof deck 75' away. Again no late blight so far. They are also now against an east facing building wall. Just throwing an idea out.

Leon

Any idea as to the type of cherry tomato you had volunteer?

laura in alameda

We have a volunteer cherry tomato that has resisted blight, ploughing right through where the other tomatoes died of blight. I'm glad it showed up- it's the only tomatoes I got this year.

Leon

Thanks for the response! I'll definitely collect what I can for shelf ripening, and then I'll ditch the plant. In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to the results of the trials being conducted on this site.

Tovar

Just before our first killing frost (the kind that covering things with tarps won't help), we pick all of our tomatoes. The green ones go onto our north-facing kitchen window and we wait for them to ripen. It takes alot of patience and they don't all ripen at once. But then again, it's fun when you can eat homegrown tomatoes in February. While you may not be able to save your plant, if it looks unaffected, perhaps you can salvage the fruit.

We have already lost several plants to this in Sebastopol, but so far, Early Girl, Persimmon and Visitacion Valley seem largely unaffected.

Leon

I have been on a 5 year quest to grow some kind of tomato at my Inner Sunset home. Yes, I know it's probably crazy, but I love tomatoes and was hoping to find a way. I was finally thinking I'd hit the jackpot this year by growing Stupice in a Gardener's Supply "Tomato Success" system on my East facing second story back deck, using a large self-watering container with a cage. I ordered the starter Stupice plant from Territorial Seed company in mid-May. I planted it in the self-watering container, and it thrived, and I've finally been able to harvest a dozen or so tasty tomatoes in the last 2 weeks. Unfortunately, I'm 99% certain that my plant has begun to succumb to late blight. It's so depressing. I'm really grateful I found your blog (and your book is my gardening bible), as it helped me to realize that it was late blight. There's still so much fruit waiting to mature on the plant. It pains me to think about pulling it up and throwing everything in the trash.

Should I give up entirely, or could one of your resistant varieties help me out? Should I yank my plant or hang in there until the last minute? I'm not growing any potatoes or other tomato plants at the moment, but I don't want to spread the disease spores to other gardens when the wind and fog pick up again. I'll yank the plant and dispose of everything, if you think that's the best course of action.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Pam

Hi Ms. Spidra,

If your 'Stupice' looks good, I will bet you don't have late blight--or at least not yet. I took more photos of good plants and dying ones tonight, and will try to get some up in a couple of days.

spidra

The best looking plant here is "Stupice", which jibes with my previous experience with "Stupice". The problem is that I'm not confident of my ability to diagnose various tomato diseases to be sure what's affecting things is late blight. No plants are dead, though, and all are bearing.

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