When you’re growing tomatoes – probably the most popular plant for the backyard garden! There are all kinds of factors that you need to take into account.
How much water should you give them? What is the best way to fertilize? How do you prevent blossom end rot?
Tomatoes aren’t the hardest crop to grow, but they can be a little finicky. Many diseases can affect tomatoes, including alternaria blight, fusarium wilt and powdery mildew, to name just a few.
Fortunately, you can prevent most diseases by planting disease-resistant varieties. Here are some great options to consider when planning your garden next year.
- 1 most common tomato diseases
- 2 Best disease resistant tomato varieties
- 2.1 1. ‘Early Girl’ – Fusarium Wilt
- 2.2 2. ‘Rutgers’ – Verticillium wilt
- 2.3 3. ‘Cherokee Purple’ – Bacterial Spec
- 2.4 4. ‘Big Beef’ – Tobacco Mosaic Virus
- 2.5 5. ‘Southern Star’ – Tomato Spot Wilted Virus
- 2.6 6. ‘Red Currant’ – Early Blight
- 2.7 7. ‘Better Boy’ – Anthracnose
- 2.8 8. ‘Margold’ – Tomato Leaf Mold
- 2.9 9. Cherry Tomatoes
- 2.10 10. Grape Tomatoes
- 2.11 11. Plum Tomatoes
- 2.12 12. Slicer Tomatoes
- 3 Other ways to prevent tomato disease
most common tomato diseases
Although there are dozens — if not hundreds — of diseases potentially causing your tomato plants, some are more common than others.
By far, it is one of the most common fungal diseases of tomatoes. This causes fruit rot, with small round spots that turn black in the middle. The disease is found in soil and is more common in wet climates and soils with poor drainage.
2. Early Blight
Early blight is the nemesis of most tomato gardeners. is caused by a fungus called alternaria solani, it can hang on for years as it winters in the soil. It does not usually kill tomato plants completely, but can seriously inhibit their growth as it can almost completely defoliate the plant.
3. Late Blight
Late blight is another frustrating disease but the good news is that it’s not common to northern gardeners—it usually isn’t able to survive cold temperatures. A fungal infection, this water-soaked spot causes the entire plant as well as many other unpleasant symptoms.
4. Fusarium Wilt
Fusarium wilt is more common in warm, southern growing regions, causing symptoms such as leaf drooping and plant death.
5. Mosaic Virus
Mosaic virus can get behind all kinds of plants, including tomatoes and even tobacco. This will not kill your plant completely but will lead to low or poor quality yield.
6. Septoria Leaf Spot
Yet another fungal disease to watch out for is Septoria leaf spot. Due to this, dark brown spots appear on the leaves of tomato.
This list is certainly not exhaustive – you can learn more about common tomato diseases here. In addition to these potential diseases, several nutrient deficiencies are often misdiagnosed as diseases (blossom and rot are just one example).
Best disease resistant tomato varieties
When it comes to preventing diseases on your tomato plants, there are dozens of options for you to choose from. Finding the right tomatoes depends on what type of tomato you want to grow (sauce, cherry, slicing, etc.) and what diseases you want to avoid.
Here are some good choices for disease-resistant tomato varieties.
1. ‘Early Girl’ – Fusarium Wilt
‘Early Girl’ is an indeterminate hybrid that produces large clusters of fruits. It is ready for harvesting early, with only early harvest time helping the variety avoid a long list of potential diseases. It is ready for harvesting in just 59 days after transplanting and is resistant to several wilt diseases including Fusarium wilt.
2. ‘Rutgers’ – Verticillium wilt
‘Rutgers’ is a popular heirloom tomato that is great for both slicing and cooking. A well-known variety from New Jersey, it has an excellent flavor and produces slightly flattened fruit. Its tall vines are resistant to fusarium and verticillium wilt, along with several other diseases.
3. ‘Cherokee Purple’ – Bacterial Spec
If heirloom varieties of tomatoes are your thing, ‘Cherokee Purple’ is another. The plant produces fruits that are often compared to brandywine tomatoes for their excellent flavor and size. It was first grown in Tennessee and has a rich, full flavor.
4. ‘Big Beef’ – Tobacco Mosaic Virus
If you are battling mosaic virus in your garden, ‘Big Beef’ is the variety to consider growing. An All-American Selections winner, it delivers a great, excellent tomato flavor in its large 12 oz.
No matter where you grow this variety, you are unlikely to encounter any problems with mosaic virus. Its large plants will continue to produce firm, juicy fruit throughout the season.
5. ‘Southern Star’ – Tomato Spot Wilted Virus
You can see the ‘Southern Star’ is sold under the name BHN 444. This variety is a globe shaped tomato with great taste and phenomenal yield. This tomato is resistant to spotted wilt virus, a particular problem in southern states.
Left untreated, the disease can severely stun or kill tomato plants that were healthy before the onset of the disease. So, if you don’t want to worry about it, it’s a good idea to grow varieties like ‘Southern Star’ to get started.
6. ‘Red Currant’ – Early Blight
‘Red Currant’ is a cherry tomato variety that produces pint-sized tomatoes that are perfect for crudites and salads. Each tomato is tiny, just a half-inch or so round – but absolutely delicious. Trust me when I say what this tomato lacks in size, it makes up for in flavor! These indeterminate plants produce mass in large clusters, making it very easy for you to harvest.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about early blight—another benefit to growing this cutie.
7. ‘Better Boy’ – Anthracnose
Anthracnose isn’t the only disease to which ‘better boy’ is resistant – but it is one of the most devastating. Therefore, developing a ‘better guy’ is a smart choice.
It’s also smart for other reasons. The plant produces a large number of fruits, many of which are a pound or more in size. Your harvest will begin in mid-season and continue until the first frost. It also has good foliage cover, which can prevent sunbathing in hot weather.
8. ‘Margold’ – Tomato Leaf Mold
‘Margold’ is another tomato variety with fun colors and excellent disease resistance. It’s the gorgeous look and flavor of the classic red-striped yellow heirloom tomato, offering exceptional disease resistance and excellent yields.
In addition to being one of the best varieties for preventing tomato leaf mildew, it can also prevent other problems such as mosaic virus and verticillium wilt. This is an indeterminate variety with a super sweet flavor and fine texture.
Not sure which varieties to go with? Check the seed packet or plant label to find out what diseases your chosen variety is resistant to. If you haven’t had problems with diseases in the past, you can probably get away with planting anything you want. However, if you are battling a specific disease, check the label to make sure the variety you choose has some resistance.
Some other excellent disease resistant varieties of tomatoes include:
9. Cherry Tomatoes
- black cherry
- cherry buzz
- early cherry
- gardener’s delight
- Chocolate Cherry
- Green Doctors Frosted
- patio picks
- speckled roman
- Suncherry Sweet
- sunrise bumblebee
- sweet gold
- sweet million
10. Grape Tomatoes
- crimson star
- jelly bean red
- lemon star
- san vicente
11. Plum Tomatoes
- initial flexibility
- giant garden
- health kick
- Little Napoleon
- Santa Lucia
- san marzano
12. Slicer Tomatoes
- better bush
- Bush Champion
- Carolina Gold
- early goliath
- pink brandywine
- red pride
- ruby don
- ultra boy
- Valley Girl
- rowdy boy
- top Gun
Other ways to prevent tomato disease
If you’re reading this article and have already sown seeds for the year, don’t panic. Not all hope is lost when it comes to preventing tomato diseases.
Fortunately, there are many more ways to keep your plants healthy than planting resistant varieties. One is to mulch your plants. This will help prevent soil-dwelling fungal spores from getting on your plants. It can also help control soil moisture and suppress weeds, two of the biggest culprits when it comes to spreading disease.
Speaking of watering, practicing good watering techniques is another way to limit the chance of diseases. Water only at the base of your plant to help keep foliage dry. Although using sprinklers can be a serious time saver, splashing water and soil all over your plant will increase the chances of disease.
Finally, if you suspect disease in your tomato plants, go ahead and prune. Remove at least the lower leaves and branches to prevent them from touching the soil. This way, you will be able to reduce the chances of soil-dwelling bacteria and fungi getting on your plants.
At the end of the growing season, be sure to clear all debris from your garden. This will reduce the chances of any nasty diseases from overwintering in the soil.
Next year, be proactive in your approach to disease prevention!
Rotate your crops—don’t plant your tomatoes in the same spot every year—and grow some of these top disease-resistant tomato varieties. There really is something here for everyone!
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