Re: [tomato] Fruit unripened and plants are withering

Paul and Kathy Lasakow (
Sat, 19 Jul 1997 10:34:41 -0400

>At 03:17 PM 7/14/97 -0400, you wrote:
>>>My plants (4 different kinds of heirlooms) grew well, flowered and set
>>>fruit, but the leaves started withering from the bottom up--turning yellow
>>>and then drying up.
>>Almost certainly early blight. Look for spots on the affected leaves with a
>>bullseye look. Your choices are few: remove the yellowed branches and
>>treat with a fungicide recommended by your local garden center (if you use
>>chemicals). Keep the foilage dry by watering only at the base, thus
>>discouraging additional fungus growth. As I understand it, the fungicide
>>works better as a preventative measure than a corrective treatment, but it
>>may keep it from getting worse and it will help prevent later fungal
>>problems like late blight. Heirlooms may also be more sensitive to fungal
>>disease-- my own limited experience says unless you have ideal growing
>>conditions to stay away from heirlooms until you've got lots of experience
>>with tomato cultivation, or at least grow them with VFN hybrids to maximize
>>your chances of getting a harvest at all. Heirlooms taste great but are
>>very sensitive to disease and growing conditions and can be a real headache
>>if everything is not ideal.
>>Good luck.

>If heirlooms were sensitive to disease they wouldn't be around.

Just because one plant is more sensitive than another does not mean that
both will fail to make it to the next generation.

They are
>not proven to be resistant to disease because it is not economically
>feasible for someone to pay a university researcher to prove it.

This is quite true. It is also true that they may not be disease resistant.
We just don't know since no scientific comparison has been made On the
balance, the heirlooms that I have grown are, in my patch of dirt, with the
techniques I use, without question more sensitive to certain diseases than
the hybrids I've grown.
Look at my original post: my opinion is that one has a better chance of
succeeding (however one defines it) with heirlooms if you've got good
growing conditions and some experience under your belt.

>rather grow heirlooms (and do) than hybrids because hybrids have their own
>alleged sensitivities. "That cold night," or "those hot days"...any excuse
>for poor performance, and I've heard them all.

>You can;t save your own seeds from hybrids and replicate the desirable
>tomato. Seed costs continue to rise and rise. What happens if a disease
>wipes out the parent strains of the hybrids?

This seems unlikely, but if it happened, we would still have seeds from the
hybrid tomatoes. They would not grow into the hybrid strain, but it's not
like the genetic pool of tomatos would be wiped out.

You'd better hope some people
>are growing heirlooms and saving seeds. Margaret

Again, read my original post. I AM growing heirlooms. Perhaps I'm
misreading your tone but you seem to espouse some kind of angry zealotry
against hybrid tomatos. Ask 5 knowledgeable gardeners about one subject and
you'll get 7 valid opinions; I was merely expressing mine.