Document Type


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Plant Pathology Department

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tomato leaf spot, tomato, fungicides


The most important plant disease affecting tomatoes during the past 10 years in South Dakota has been a fungus disease known as Septoria leaf spot (Septoria lycopersici). Other diseases have been of minor importance, namely late blight, Alternaria leaf spot, wilt and virus troubles. Septoria leaf spot frequently develops rapidly and may, under favorable conditions, completely defoliate the crop within a few weeks. When defoliation by the disease occurs, the yield may be markedly reduced. Fruit produced on such plants becomes flabby and the flavor is of low quality. The tomato is one of our most important vegetable crops. It is grown by virtually every home gardener and is high in certain vitamins which are important in the family diet, though it is not grown extensively on a commercial scale in the state at the present time. Septoria leaf spot may be recognized by the characteristic spots (see cover) on the leaves and stems which are approximately one-eighth inch in diameter. The margins of the spots usually become dark reddish- brown in color while the centers are light grey with a few scattered tiny black specks. When the spots become very numerous the affected leaves turn from light green to brown, die and drop from the plants. When the leaves are killed by the disease the fruits ripen prematurely and have an insipid flavor. These symptoms should distinguish Septoria leaf spot from other fungus diseases affecting the foliage. Early blight (Alternaria solani) forms larger irregular spots onefourth to one-half inch in diameter with numerous inconspicuous concentric rings within the diseased spot. Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) forms larger patches on the leaves which may, under certain weather conditions, involve entire leaves. The lesions appear water-soaked at first, but later become light brown to dark brown and in moist weather show a white mildew-like growth on the lower side of the leaves. This disease also causes a characteristic brown rot of the fruit which may result in heavy losses in yield of marketable fruit. Tomato plants can be protected from these fungus diseases by repeated applications with an effective fungicide. The first application should be made when the leaf spots first appear, and then repeated at 10-day intervals. It has been shown experimentally that sprays provide better coverage and protection than dusts. The lower as well as the upper surfaces of the leaves should be covered. In order to determine the most effective fungicide for the control of tomato foliage diseases in South Dakota a series of field experiments was started in 1944 at the State College Experiment Station.










South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Agricultural Experiment Station