tomato problems

Tomato Defense Guide: Is That Late Blight, or Something Else?

Late blight can lay waste to your tomatoes, but it sometimes resembles other, less serious tomato problems. Our slideshow explains the differences.

By Leah Zerbe


RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Last year, the usually fatal tomato disease called late blight devastated U.S. gardens—and the gardeners who tend them. It struck again this year, but because the disease relies on wet, moist weather to wreak havoc, the recent weeks-long heat wave in many areas of the country seems to have spared a lot of tomatoes.

If late blight strikes, in most cases it takes ripping out the infected plant, double-bagging it, and sending it to the landfill to keep it from infecting more of your garden (or your neighbors' gardens). Many more common tomato diseases (but not all) do not require such drastic measures, so knowing how to diagnose your tomato problems is key.

For guidance on recognizing the tomato problems home gardeners are likely to encounter, we turned to plant disease expert Meg McGrath, PhD, of Cornell University.

Here's how to identify late blight and its look-a-likes:

Late Blight

Gray Mold

Drought Stress

Early Blight

Septoria Leaf Spot

(All images courtesy Meg McGrath/Cornell University)

Published on: July 26, 2010
Updated on: August 30, 2010

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