[NAFEX] early vs late blight

Kieran &/or Donna holycow at frontiernet.net
Thu Jul 30 00:05:33 EDT 2009


Having been exposed to both, here goes:

Early blight is properly named for us in the South.  It is soil borne and appears on the bottom leaves first. The leaves get yellow spots that turn brown, fall out and make the leaves look ragged.  As the year progresses, splashing water moves the blight up the plant.  Mulch helps to reduce infection.  The worst case scenerio is when the locals rototill in hot dry weather so the dust settles on the tomato leaves.  When rain arrives the plants can be reduced to uselessness in days.   

Late blight arrives late in the south.  It is favored by cool wet cloudy conditions, which in England meant as soon as I could put my seedlings outside and the rest of the summer as well.  The first sign was a droopy blackened leaf that looked like frost damage, only there hadn't been any frost.  The key signs are blackness and wilting.  The endpoint is a plant that seems to be melting, and tomatoes brought in to for storage that develop sunken spots that blacken and rot.  

Incidentally, we had late blight in our potatoes this year, planted early to get them growing well before the inevitable heat and drought.  Well naturally we got cool and wet instead.  Yes, I confess, I brought on the cool wet summer by trying to outsmart Mother Nature.  Sorry about that.  Anyway, the plants that died early died from blight, and the potatoes that hadn't rotted in the ground already don't keep at all.  Get them wet and they rot and stink.  That is one thing about the blight in potatoes, it smells horrible as the potatoes rot in storage.  They seem to be pretty ok if we leave them in the ground till we are ready to eat them.  Supposedly the blight causes spina bifida.  I know someone who was told he was one of 15,000 spina bifida cases from a bad blight year.  That was in the US.  In Ireland the spina bifida rate approaches 1% of births some blighty years.        Donna 
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