Choosing The Most Disease Resistant Tomato For Your Garden

Nothing is worse than giving up an entire tomato crop to an unforeseen disease. Tomato plants are susceptible to a bundle of problems, many of which take a toll over the entire crop. Crop rotations, drip irrigation and the use of sterilized gardening tools can help prevent the spread but only to a limited extent. 

It all comes down to choosing the most disease resistant tomato variety so the problem doesn’t occur in the first place. When you pick the choicest seed varieties based on their shape, size, growing days and texture, there’s one more very important thing to keep in mind – how well can it resist diseases? Continue reading and you’ll learn how to pick the right cultivars to plant in your garden. 

Know Your Region’s Common Tomato Diseases

Before choosing the tomato varieties that will suit you best, learn more about the tomato diseases that are most common in your region. Have a chat with the local gardeners, or consult a local nursery to find out about the diseases that bother them most often. Once you have a list of the problems you need to watch out for, you can pick the right cultivars that are resistant to them. Tomatoes growing in different regions are prone to different kinds of diseases. For this reason, a cultivar that grows perfectly well in your friend’s garden miles away, might not be the most ideal option for your garden. 

For example, early blight and septoria leaf spot are diseases that thrive in humid regions, such as the southeast United States. So what are the best disease resistant tomatoes for gardeners living in humid regions? The ones that are resistant to early blight and septoria leaf spot. 

How To Read Tomato Disease Resistance Codes?

Most Disease Resistant Tomato

When purchasing tomato cultivars, you’ll find certain abbreviations listed on the seeds packet or seedling label. These letters mark the disease resistance codes for that specific tomato variety. If you can read those codes right, you’ll know which tomato disease is the variety resistant to. 

The codes usually appear right next to the tomato cultivar’s name. Here’s a list of the most common codes you’ll find and what they mean:

CodeDisease The Variety Is Resistant To
VVerticillium Wilt
FFusarium Wilt
FFFusarium races 1 and 2
FFFFusarium races 1, 2 and 3
NNematodes
TTobacco Mosaic Virus
StStemphylium (Grey Leaf Spot)
AAlternaria
TSWVTomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Besides the codes mentioned in the table, you may also find HR or IR typed next to the codes. Here’s what they stand for:

HRHigh Resistance
IRIntermediate Resistance

An Example

Now that you have the codes, how do you read something like VFNT written next to the cultivar’s name on the seed packet? According to the table above, the particular seed variety has been bred to resist verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, nematodes, tobacco mosaic virus. 

What is The Most Blight Resistant Tomato?

Tomato blight is a common disease that results from a fungal infection. Like all other fungal infections, blight also spreads through spores. 

Three different kinds of fungi can attack your tomato crop, causing three different kinds of problems, during different stages of growth. It can appear as septoria blight, early blight or late blight. While all blights diminish yield, late blight is by far, the most problematic of the three. 

Over the last few years, blight resistant tomato varieties have also appeared in the market. You’ll find the labels SLS (for septoria leaf spot resistance), EB (for early blight resistance) and LB (for late blight resistance) on them. 

Hybrids That Are Blight Resistant

Thankfully, Cornell University has bred newer varieties of tomatoes that are resistant to the different stages of blight. Here’s a list of the most blight resistant tomato varieties to plant in your garden:

  1. Iron Lady
  2. Plum Perfect
  3. BrandyWise
  4. Mountain Magic
  5. Jasper
  6. Mountain Merit
  7. Lemon Drop
  8. Steller
  9. Summer Sweetheart

What Is The Hardiest Tomato Plant?

Wondering what are the best disease resistant tomatoes to go for? Here’s a list of the cultivars that will resist many of the most common diseases: verticillium, fusarium, nematode, and tobacco mosaic virus. 

  1. Bush Early Girl
  2. Sweet Tangerine
  3. Fourth of July
  4. Umamin
  5. Bush Big Boy
  6. Big Beef
  7. Supertasty
  8. Celebrity

Further Precautions Are Still Important

Now that you know more about the most disease resistant tomato varieties, you can have a hardy tomato crop that can effectively avoid many problems. However, relying entirely on the disease resistance of seed varieties isn’t enough. Environment, soil structure and maintenance is also important to prevent the crop from diseases. 

Here are a bunch of measures you can take to prevent diseases in your tomato crop:

  • Rotate the crops regularly, making sure you don’t plant tomatoes, or any other member from the nightshade family at the same spot for more than two years in a row. 
  • Always water at the base to avoid spreading the spread of disease-carrying organisms. 
  • Maintain consistent moisture. Wet and humid conditions harbor many diseases. 
  • Disinfect gardening tools after working on diseased plants.
  • Mulching the soil helps prevent the spread of fungal spores through water splashes. 

Conclusion

So as it turns out, there isn’t a single magical seed variety that will resist all sorts of diseases. You will need to consider your climate and the kind of diseases that are most prevalent in the region. These are the ones you will need to avoid. 

Once you’ve found the most disease resistant tomato for your garden, take all the preventive measures. That’s all that it takes to harvest baskets of juicy, bright disease-free tomatoes at the end of the season!

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