What disease is destroying my tomatoes?

Q. 

This is a pic of our tomato plants.  Two weeks ago they were all healthy. Today most of the leaves are dying and the actual tomatoes have this brown appearing. It starts on the bottom fruit and it then works its way to the top tomatoes. The brown then turns soft and rots! What is the problem and what can I do about it?

A.

The bad news is that this looks like late blight and could destroy every tomato plant in the garden. The fruit eventually has a brown orange peel look and is definitely not edible. The blight is a virus and wind blown so the only solution is to remove the plants, put them in the garbage and hope other plants are not affected. I have seen the blight wipe out every tomato plant in  gardens.

Remedies for next year, use plastic sheeting under your plants, stake them all  and give them room to breathe. The jury is out as to whether the bacteria resides in the soil over winter. It is a deadly and very common disease.

Other tomato diseases that we often encounter:

– common but deadly fungus diseases of verticillium wilt and fusarian wilt. Whole plant wilts and dies but tomatoes could still be edible. Only solution is to buy disease resistant stock to combat this.

– sunscald often affects tomatoes that aren’t surrounded by healthy leaf canopies. However, sunscald mostly affects early varieties and usually shows at the bottom of the tomato. Sunscald tomatoes do ripen and one can remove the affected area and enjoy the fruit. That doesn’t look like the problem here.