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Tomato Diseases and what to do about them

Tomato Diseases and what to do about them

Tomato plants seem to be attacked by every pest known. And many that appear mysterious, especially if you are gardening in a climate that has long hot, humid summers.

Here are the many things to look for and what to do about them.

Tomato Funguses and Viruses

  • Early Blight - fungus Alternaria solani a fungal disease that affects tomato, potato, pepper, and eggplant plants. Symptoms are circular, dark-brown spots that develop concentric rings and yellow margins and black spotting around the stem end and shoulders of fruits. It rarely affects young, vigorously growing plants, and is usually found on older leaves first.
  • Septoria Leaf Spot - fungus Septoria lycopersici. It is most active when temp are between 68 to 77°F, with high humidity and wet leaves from rain or watering. The fungus does NOT stay in the soil but can survive the winter in debris from previous crops.
  • Bacterial Spot - Black spots on the leaves
  • Late Blight - fungus Phytophthora infestans. Late blight is worst during cool, wet weather. It grows and reproduces quickly in cool, wet weather with moderate temperatures (60° and 80° F). Symptoms include:
    Brown, dry lesions with a pale green to yellow border, Lesions on leaves within 3-5 days of infection, followed by white cottony growth.
    This one gets tomato plants late in the season (mid -July/August)
  •  Spotted Wilt Virus - Leaves have small brown ringspots, bronzing of the upper leaf sides, cupping downward, some tip dieback, and necrotic spots
    Fruit - look for yellow ringspots, brown, necrotic sunken areas, chlorotic spots and blotches, often with concentric rings, and slightly raised areas with faint, concentric zones
    Dark spots or ring patterns on fruit, ligneous patterns on leaves, and plants appearing wilted
  • Verticillium Wilt -   causes yellowing, wilting, and other symptoms. The disease often develops in late spring during cooler weather. The first symptoms to appear are yellowing of older leaves, which may wilt and eventually fall off. Other symptoms include: Leaf margins curl upward, Stunted plants, Small fruit, Vascular streaking, and V-shaped leaf lesions.
  • Blossom end rot - caused by a calcium deficiency due to either low levels of calcium in the soil or wide variations in available moisture. Mulching helps.
  • Fruit cracking - due to rapid fruit development, fluctuations in soil water; typically if a dry period is followed by heavy rains and high temperatures.


Most important keys to preventing and stopping tomato plant diseases

  1. Never grow tomatoes in the same soil or 2 years in a row. A 3 or 4 year rotation is best, if you can. That means you grow something NOT related tomatoes (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant are all in the same family, so none of them can share the same soil.
  2. Never water the leaves, only the soil
  3. Always use a mulch - I put down compost or organic matter like straw, then cover it with weed fabric. Either by itself will work to prevent diseases, which stay in the soil, from splashing up on the tomatoes plants from rain and watering.
  4. Grow tomatoes up - on a fence, cage, trellis or other upright support; NOT sprawling on the ground.

Tomato disease names, abbreviations and references


Disease Resistance Abbreviations
SC Alternaria Stem Canker
EB Early Blight (Alternaria solani)
AB Early Blight (Alternaria solani)
CR Crack Resistance
F1 Fusarium Wilt Race 1
F2 Fusarium Wilt Races 1 and 2
F3 Fusarium Wilt Races 0, 1, and 2
HR High Resistance
MR Medium Resistance
LB Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans)
LM Leaf Mold
N Nematodes
St/L Stemphylium (Gray Leaf Spot)
TMV Tobacco Mosaic Virus
ToANV Tomato Apex Necrotic Virus
ToMV Tomato Mosaic Virus (Strains 0, 1, and 2)
TSWV Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
TYLCV Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus
V  Verticillium Wilt

References to other sources


Other related information



Farm markets and roadside stands

Local Honey Finder

Local Meat, Milk and Eggs

Venues: Farms, Wineries, Orchards for your event, wedding or party

Easter egg hunts

Children's consignment sales

Fruit and vegetable festivals

Winery tours and wine tastings

Horse rides, stables, lessons, trails

Maple Syrup farms and sugarworks

Bed & Breakfasts on Farms, Wineries, Ranches and Orchards

Pumpkin patches

Corn mazes

Zombie Paintball venues

Christmas Tree Farms & lots

Environmental resources

Consumer fraud information

Wholesale food sources

Resources for Farmers

Canning Books, Supplies and Accessories

These are my favorite essential canning tools, books and supplies. I've been using many of these for over 50 years of canning! The ones below on this page are just the sampling of. my preferred tools. but you can find much more detailed and extensive selections on the pages that are linked below.

The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes Paperback

This is THE book on canning! My grandmother used this book when I was a child.; It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc.

If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)The New Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving

Canning and Preserving for Dummies by Karen Ward

This is another popular canning book. Click here for more information, reviews, prices for Canning and Preserving For Dummies

Of course, you do not need to buy ANY canning book as I have about 500 canning, freezing, dehydrating and more recipes all online for free, just see Easy Home Canning Directions.

Home Canning Kits

I have several canners, and my favorite is the stainless steel one at right. It is easy to clean and seems like it will last forever. Mine is 10 years old and looks like new.

The black ones are the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce.

This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, Jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer,  It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. It's only missing the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book.

You will never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! 

The complete list of canners is on these pages:


Pressure Canners

If you plan on canning non-acidic foods and low acid foods that are not pickled - this means: meats, seafood, soups, green beans corn, most vegetables, etc., then you ABSOLUTELY must use a Pressure Canner.

Of course, you can use a pressure canner as a water bath canner as well - just don't seal it up, so it does not pressurize. This means a Pressure Canner is a 2-in-1 device. With it, you can can almost ANYTHING.

There are also other supplies, accessories, tools and more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!

Basic Canning Accessories

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter - to remove lids from the pot of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lids- disposable - you may only use them once
  4. Ring - holds the lids on the jar until after the jars cool - then you remove them, save them and reuse them
  5. Canning Jar funnel - to fill the jars

FREE Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

Don't spend money on books. that you don't need to. Almost everything you can find in some book sold online or in a store is on my website here for free. Start with theEasy Home Canning Directions below. That is a master list of canning directions which are all based upon the Ball Bblue book, the National Center for Home Food Preservation and other reputable lab tested recipes. Almost every recipe I present in addition to being lab tested com. is in a step by step format with photos for each step and complete. explanations. that tell you how to do it, where to get the supplies and pretty much everything you need to know. In addition, there almost always in a PDF format so you can print them out and use them while you cook.

[ Easy Home Canning Directions]

[FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems]

[Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!]

[Free canning publications to download and print]