Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Tomato blight.

Alys Fowler: Tomato blight, plus the June drop | The Guardian:
- Try to keep leaves dry with some kind of shelter when the weather is wet for more than a day or two.
- Keep outside tomatoes sheltered from the rain if possible – plants hate wet leaves.
- Sometimes over feeding can be an issue, so feeding little and often is another way to keep plants healthy.
- A better approach is to breed tomatoes that won’t succumb to the disease.
- Grow resistant varieties such as: Potatoes 'Axona' or 'Mira' and Tomato 'Ferline','Legend' and 'Fantasio'.

All that said, there is hope for outdoor growers. A wilder Mexican tomato called Matt's Wild Cherry shows signs of resistance; another is Koralik, a sprawling bush tomato (the type where you don't have to pinch out side shoots) closely related to Matt's. Both have tiny cherry tomatoes.

Ferline and Legend are F1 cordons (the type where you do pinch out the side shoots) that were bred in Oregon, where blight is a common problem. They are not immune to blight, but are very early fruiting, so you get a tomato salad or two before your chutney-making begins.

Poor air circulation compounds the problem, so if your plants are in pots, give them plenty of space; in the ground, aim for 1-1.5m apart. There is some anecdotal evidence that a solution of 50/50 milk and water sprayed weekly helps to keep the spores at bay. And feed pot plants weekly with comfrey or liquid seaweed, to keep the plants' strength up.
Tomato ‘Legend
This particular variety was bred in the USA by Dr. Jim Baggett at Oregon State University. In recent tests ‘Legend’ had shown impressive blight tolerance, and in particular during trials in a ‘garden’ situation. It produces large, glossy red fruits with an expected crop of up to 6lbs per plant. The fruit have a slightly flatter shape compared to the norm and come almost completely seedless. Fortunately for most gardeners, best results are produced when the plants were grown outdoors but they are also perfectly fine for growing under glass. They have an excellent flavour and should be sown 6-8 weeks before expected lasts frosts - in the United Kingdom this will be any time from March onwards.

Tomato ‘FERLINE’ F1 Hybrid
Not only has this new variety shown excellent tolerance to ‘Late Blight’, it has also proven itself to be highly resistant against both fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. As with the new ‘Legend’ cultivar, ‘Ferline’ has also tested extremely well in garden trials. It produces heavy crops – up to 5lbs per plant – of flavoursome, deep red fruits. Although it does well sown outdoors ‘Ferline’ is also suitable for growing under glass.

Tomato ‘FANTASIO’ F1 Hybrid
This is a deliciously flavoured variety that has also trialled well in the garden situation against ‘Late Blight’ infection. In fact it has also shown good resistance to Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Verticilium wilt, Fusarium Wilts, and nematodes too. Tomato ‘Fantastico will bear you a good crop of round fruits, with each plant producing up to around 6lbs of tomatoes.
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