How to Treat Early Blight on Tomato Plants

Have you ever fought early blight on your precious tomato plants? This fungal disease can destroy your crop, making you worry. But there's hope yet. With the right approach, you can win the battle and have a great harvest. Let's discover how to fight this disease and keep your tomatoes healthy.

What is Early Blight

Early blight is a common fungal disease that affects tomatoes and other plants. It belongs to the same plant family as tomatoes, like potatoes and peppers. It's caused by two fungi, Alternaria tomatophila and Alternaria solani.

The disease first shows on the lower leaves. You'll see small, dark spots that get bigger and form rings. Leaves around the spots turn yellow. Badly hit leaves can turn brown, fall off, or stay stuck to the plant. Fruits also suffer, getting leathery spots with ridges near their stems.

Early blight loves moderate to warm weather, between 59°F and 80°F, with an ideal range of 82°F to 86°F. It spreads more in wet or very humid conditions.

The fungus can last in old plant bits over winter, and even in soil for a year. Its spores travel by wind, air, and water. So, it's hard to get rid of completely.

Resistant Tomato Varieties

Focus on planting tomatoes that fight off early blight well. No tomato is completely safe from this disease. But, certain types do a better job at resisting it than others.

Cornell University is at the forefront of this research. They keep a close eye on tomato types known to resist diseases. Seed catalogs often list which tomatoes can resist early blight. Look for ones marked with "EB."

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Galahad, Defiant PhR, Purple Zebra, and Sun Gold are some good choices. These tomatoes are bred to withstand many common tomato diseases. This includes early blight, late blight, fusarium wilt, and verticillium wilt.

  • Galahad is resistant to early blight, grey leaf spot, tomato spotted wilt virus, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and late blight.
  • Cherokee Purple has resistance to septoria leaf spot.
  • Sunrise Sauce is resistant to fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt.
  • Defiant PhR is resistant to late blight, early blight, fusarium wilt, and verticillium wilt.
  • Mountain Magic is resistant to late blight, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and early blight.
  • Purple Zebra is resistant to tomato mosaic virus, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, leaf mold, late blight, and tomato leaf curl virus.
  • Early Girl is tolerant of fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt.
  • Sun Gold is resilient to fusarium wilt and tomato mosaic virus.

Resistant types won't completely stop early blight. But they will help a lot in managing the disease. By picking these tomatoes, gardeners can make their plants healthier. This leads to more tomatoes and a better growing season.

Cultural and Physical Control Methods

Gardeners can use more than just resistant tomatoes to fight early blight. They can use certain ways that are both cultural and physical to keep the disease in check. These methods are very good at stopping early blight before it becomes a big problem.

Cultural Practices for Early Blight

Keeping your garden clean is key. Getting rid of any plants that are sick, like leaves or stems, helps. This stops the disease from spreading. Also, switching where you plant tomatoes each year can break the disease's cycle.

Letting fresh air move around your plants is also crucial. Cut off lower leaves to create space. And try to keep your plants dry; use drip irrigation if you can. It waters the soil, not the leaves.

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Physical Control of Early Blight

  • Adding mulch around your plants keeps disease-causing spores off the leaves.
  • Covering plants with row covers or cloches puts a shield that stops the spores from landing on them.
  • It's also important to clean your tools. This way, you won't accidentally spread the disease to healthy plants.

Using these cultural and physical methods together can beat early blight. This means a better tomato crop for you.

How to Treat Early Blight on Tomato Plants

If you find early blight in your tomato garden, act fast to stop it spreading. As a home gardener, you can do several things to fight early blight.

Start by getting rid of leaves or stems with spots or discoloration. Put these plants parts deep in the ground or burn them. This stops the fungus from making more spores and infecting other tomatoes.

Next, consider using a fungicide. Choose a product with ingredients like chlorothalonil or copper. They kill the fungus and stop the disease from spreading. Always follow the fungicide's directions, especially if they mention use on tomatoes.

Good gardening habits are key in early blight management. Cut off lower tomato plant leaves to improve air flow. Use drip irrigation or mulch to avoid water splashes that spread spores. Pick tomato varieties that resist or tolerate early blight for less disease impact in your garden.

With the right plant varieties, gardening techniques, and fungicides, you can beat early blight. Gardening well and acting timely can protect your tomatoes. You'll harvest plenty, even with this widespread fungal disease.

Prevention Strategies for Early Blight

Gardeners can use many ways to stop early blight from hurting their tomato plants. This disease is caused by the fungus Alternaria solani. It is both common and harmful, often leading to lower tomato yields.

The fungus that causes early blight can live through the winter on plants. It then spreads through rains or sprinklers, and thrives in high humidity. To fight against this disease, gardeners should follow these steps:

  • Start with seeds and plants that are certified as disease-free.
  • Choose tomato types that can withstand early blight, like 'Cloudy Day'.
  • Space your plants well and trim them to improve air flow and reduce moisture.
  • Put mulch around the plants to stop the fungus from reaching leaves from the soil.
  • Get rid of any plant leftovers that might have the fungus at the end of the season.
  • Use fungicides like copper hydroxide, Serenade (for those who prefer organic methods), or chlorothalonil, azoxystrobin (for traditional gardeners) regularly.
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With these steps, gardeners can lower the chances of early blight. They can keep their tomato plants safe from this serious disease.


Early blight is a harmful fungus that can lower the amounts of tomatoes you get. It's important to know the signs, where it spreads, and how it grows. With this knowledge, you can protect your tomato plants. Use tomatoes that are less likely to get sick, and try different ways to stop the fungus. If needed, use special sprays. By being careful and doing everything you can, you'll have lots of healthy tomatoes.

To fight early blight, spot the signs quickly. Learn how the disease spreads and likes certain conditions. Use plants that can fight off the sickness, good farming methods, and sometimes spray. Doing all these things helps keep your tomatoes safe from early blight.

Early blight is tough, but you can beat it with the right plan. Stay alert, use good techniques, and keep up with what works. By doing so, your tomato plants will do well and give you plenty of tasty tomatoes.

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