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Preventing tomato plant diseasesSubmitted: 05/01/2016
Story By Karolina Buczek

Preventing tomato plant diseases
ONEIDA COUNTY - You often see tomatoes growing in gardens across the Northwoods, but making sure tomato plants stay healthy is difficult here in Wisconsin because of tomato blight.

In Wisconsin, tomato plants often get a disease called tomato blight. It can come early or late in the season.

"That's always a big one where your tomatoes defoliate from the bottom up," says Brian Hudelson, the director of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. "That's a very common one across the state, not only here but everywhere."

If you start to see it, don't let it grow out of control.

"If you have a problem with the disease, clean up the plants -as much of the debris as you possibly can," says Hudelson. "You can either burn, bury or hot compost that material to get rid of the pathogen."

Mulching is also a good way to prevent the disease from ever leaving the soil.

Experts also recommend keeping the leaves dry.

"Don't overhead water," says Hudelson. "That's a big one we talk about with folks, People like to sprinkle irrigate and that's not a good thing from a disease stand point."

If the disease keeps attacking your plants year after year, experts say it's a good idea to look into planting resistant varieties.

"Next year when you go in, move your tomatoes to a new location, space them far a part and make sure there's a lot of good air flow," says Hudelson. "Prune them routinely and cut out suckers so you open the canopy to more air penetration -that'll dry things."

People can get more advice on gardening at their local UW-Extension Office.

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