With tomato season well underway in south Alabama, it is important growers to maintain a “proactive” approach to disease, insect, and weed management. It is easy to get busy and fall behind on management,. However, this can lead to a large reduction in quality and yield of tomatoes.
Diseases of Tomato Plants
A major disease gardeners encounter yearly is Southern Blight. Southern Blight is present in most soils in the Wiregrass region and is best controlled by applying a preventative fungicide. Be sure to use one of the fungicides that specifically targets Southern Blight. Growers should try to make an application at second string tying followed by a second application 10 days later. Example: 2.0 to 5.7 fl oz/acre of fluoxastrobin (such as Evito®) via chemigation, followed by a second application 10 days later.
Pest Issues in Tomato Plants
Worm issues are the next problem that come to mind. Encourage growers to make an application of a systemic insecticide at first flower. Systemic insecticides that target worms will give longer residual control. Example: 3.5 to 5 fl. oz/acre of chlorantraniliprole (Coragen®), followed by a second application 10 to 12 days later. Continue to monitor for worms closely throughout the growing season.
Soil Fertility Maintenance
It is also important for growers to monitor for soil fertility issues. Blossom-end rot is common in vegetable production, especially in tomatoes and peppers. Blossom-end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the plant. Calcium is most efficiently taken up through the root system of the plant. Therefore, Extension professionals recommend making an application of liquid calcium via the drip system prior to first flower followed by two to three more applications spaced a few days apart.
These are only a couple of the production issues that we face every year. With a little forethought, growers can greatly reduce the chance of them being a major issue and avoid significant yield loss. For any further information or questions regarding these topics, please contact your local extension agent and remember to always consult the chemical label before making any pesticide applications.
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