Joel In The Garden

Early blight on tomatoes not reason to panic

Early blight on tomatoes not reason to panic

EUGENE, Ore. — A few vegetables in the garden are now producing, but many tomatoes have yet to turn red. And if you’re noticing some early blight on your tomatoes, experts say that’s not necessarily reason to panic.

We've been enjoying a long stretch of sunny weather which is great for growth in the garden.

“In Lane County, wait three minutes and the weather changes,” OSU Extension Service horticulture agent Ross Penhallegon said.

A few weeks ago, I noticed some dying foliage on my tomato plants. At first, I was concerned this might be a fungus. However, after talking with experts, they say this might've just been brought on by stress.

“Early blight is usually that which affects the older leaves on a tomato plant,” Penhallegon said. “They start getting a little spotty, a little color change, but in most cases, we don't see this affecting the production of the plant at all.”

Penhallegon says you can trim the dead and yellow leaves, but so long as there's new growth at the top of the plant, you should be fine. My sweet corn has a lot of catching up to do, but I'm trying to keep up with my raspberry bushes, though I've had to watch out for the busy bees. My pea plants are starting to show off some nice pods. But those pods will weigh down the plant if you don't have supports in place, so I'm reinforcing the weave on my trellis with some more string and a few more stakes. It's also important to keep watering, especially during dry spells. 

“It’s the same way with potatoes. If it's wet, dry, wet then dry, that's why they get all knobby,” Penhallegon said. “They need that consistent moisture, both potatoes and tomatoes.”

In the plus category, my broccoli plants are starting to form heads and I'm finding some young squash on the vine. The crab grass continues to be the most invasive weed, which I'm constantly digging.

Penhallegon says late season blight is far more destructive for tomato plants. That's typically brought on by an extended period of rainy, wet conditions, which we haven't experienced in months.