Non-hybrid tomato resists blight : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From the Oct/Sept 1994 issue of Organic Gardening:


Brandywine tomatoes are a well-known heirloom variety that most growers consider to be one of--if not THE--best-tasting varieties. Now, new research from the University of Maryland tells us that they may also resist that dreaded tomato disease early blight better than some modern hybrids. (Early blight is the most damaging foliar disease affecting tomatoes east of the Mississippi, with non-organic growers sometimes spraying their tomatoes with fungicide 25 times a season to control it.

Brandywine has what's called "potato leaf" foliage; its big leaves look more like those of a potato plant than most modern tomatoes. So one day UM regional specialist Jon Traunfeld decided to check out gardeners' reports that heirloom varieties with potato-like leaves seemed to be more resistant to early blight than regular-leaf varieties. Working with certified organic growers Marty and Eric Rice, Traunfeld tested two potato-leaved heirlooms, Pink Brandywine and Ukranian Olena, against two modern hybrids, Pik Red (a commercial standard for Northeast growers) and Early Cascade (an early, small-fruited variety purported to have good tolerance to early blight).

By the end of August, the hybrids had lost 50-60 percent of their leaves (a primary symptom of early blight) while the potato-leaved old-timers had only about one-third as much damage. "The potato-leaved varieties were extraordinarily vigorous and they quickly outgrew the Early Cascade and Pik Red plants," explains Traunfeld, "So we aren't sure if the potato-leaved types actually have genetic resistance to early blight or if they just grow so vigorously that they can stay ahead of the spreading infection." Either way, you win when you grow them. Great-tasting, super-vigorous Pink Brandywine is available from Heirloom Seeds, Box 245, West Elizabeth, PA 15088 (catalog $1, refundable with order). And both Brandywine and Olena are available to members of the Seeds Savers Exchange, 3076 North Winn Road, Decorah, IA 52101.

End of typing job.

Note from Old Git: In the past couple of years I've seen Brandywine available at some garden centers. You can also buy plants from a catalogue called Natural Gardening, whose phone number you can get from the 800 operator. (They may have a web site by now.)

I've grown Brandywines and they ARE very good tasting. German Johnsons grow very well here in central NC. And I've had particularly good luck with a cherry vining tomato called Sweet One Hundred. It's worth it to grow a couple just to munch on when you're outside--they're little bombs of sweet and juicy delight! But be warned--if trained up a cage or pole they grow a bit like Jack's beanstalk. You might rather let them twine on a bed of pine straw, or other mulch, on the ground.

-- Old Git (, April 15, 1999


I got my Brandywine's two years ago from "Totally Tomatoes" a company that is owned or part of a larger group: Shumway's, Vermont Bean Seed, and that English Flower place. They advertise in garden magazines.

Anyway, the first year, with the purchased seed, I had very low germination. At 30 seeds for about $2....

We saved the seeds. Tomato seed should be removed from the pulp as much as possible, and allowed to sit for a few days in an empty soup can or something. Allow a mold to form on the surface. After about three/four days, rinse and rinse. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the rinse bowl, and the dead stuff floats away.

The next year, from our own seeds, germination was fantastic! Likewise with all the other tomato seeds I saved that way. ( and likewise with a lot of the other seeds I have saved.)

We grow Brandywine, Princepe Borghese (for drying!) Amish Paste (for canning) Capri, Oregon Spring, and Stupice. The last three will make tomatoes really early, give up in the hot part of the summer, and come back in the fall.

It is possible, in the fall, to root tomato cuttings - especially cherry and Stupice- and keep them in a warm green house thru the winter.

Did you know that sweet peppers are annuals and hot peppers are really perennials (sp!)

got pasta?

-- Mary (, April 15, 1999.

Shazam!-- The Natural Gardening Company

-- Tom Carey (, April 16, 1999.


no kidding! I've had jalapenos that you could taste for days afterwards!, isn't that quite what you meant?


[who in his old age tends toward the sweet peppers and away from the other kind]

-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 16, 1999.

You can also get Brandywine seeds from Burpee's Heirloom seed catalog at

-- Valkyrie (, April 16, 1999.

Mary, sounds like those seeds weren't properly stored by the company. It's really difficult to damage tomato seeds (there was a thread on that not long ago). Tom, thanks for the link.

Is there anyone who's not dying to taste that first garden tomato??? Saw one called July Fourth, name says it all. But I usually have fruit before then anyway, just buy a couple of large Early Girl plants at the garden center! Also, there are now heat-resistant varieties. Tomatoes won't set fruit when the temp is in the low 90s, but there's Heatwave and a couple of others out now. Must get some, help with the summer doldrums. And don't forget to grow some Long Keepers or Winter Reds for storage.

-- Old Git (, April 16, 1999.

How about late blight? Any info on that? I hadn't heard of any tomatoes or potatoes resistant to late blight- we got hit bad with late blight last year- whole area did.

Am growing several of the Brandywines- Pink, Red, Yellow and Black. Other heirlooms as well- German, Rose, Principe Borghese, Green Grape, Black Krim, Prudens Purple, etc- just finished potting them up into larger containers. Working on the big tunnel for them- they'll go in a few weeks from now if the weather allows- 15 degrees here this a.m. and we're expecting snow...(sigh).

-- anita (, April 16, 1999.

Sorry, Anita, don't have info on late blight--yet. (Haven't gone through all the Organic Gardenings my son gave to me.) However, since it appears that the potato plant-like leaf is what's different, then perhaps this type of leaf also protect against late blight. Will you let us know how your plants do? I realize it will be anecdotal as opposed to accepted scentific study, but it might give us some ideas.

I tried yellow plum last year, didn't do so well for me but could have been the location. I'd love to try those minuscule tomatoes you see offered but don't have time to grow from seed--have you any experience with them? Looks as if they're very close to the original tomato and, one hopes, pest- and disease-resistant.

-- Old Git (, April 16, 1999.

I ordered my non hybred seeds but do not want to use them this year. Should I open them or can they be left in the sealed packages until next year. I may not get back this way to read this thread. Please email me with a yes or no or link. Thanks.

-- Linda A. (, April 16, 1999.

Lisa, hope you get back here because I'm paranoid about my real address getting out--you should see the amount of spam I get already! There's a thread soemwhere in the depths which talks about how sturdy tomato seeds are. As for other seeds, they vary, but if you store them airtight, cool and dark, they should be okay.

-- Old Git (, April 16, 1999.

Sorry, LINDA not Lisa.

-- Old Git (, April 16, 1999.

Linda- General rule of thumb- store seeds cool, dry and dark- in rodent/bug proof containers. they'll be fine for years- only a few exceptions- parsnips, scallions, some flowers. If germination in tomatoes is poor, was either stored wrong or not collected properly- I've had that this year with only 1 of my heirloom types(Rose)- not one I saved myself- obviously, I'll save those seeds myself this year. PS- a garage is NOT a good place in general. Nor should you freeze seeds. Just keep them cool(a fridge is fine, in a coffee can by the way.)

-- anita (, April 16, 1999.

I planted my Brandywines yesterday. I bought them at Long's Drugs. I am planting more plants in my garden then ever before. I will be moving some of my flowers around to make more room for vegies. We don't have a large yard and I have to find some space somewhere for some watermelons and pumpkins for my 2 little ones.

-- Homeschooling Grandma (, April 16, 1999.

Planting tomatoes today. Started in windowsill in January. Potted on ...Feb?... Planted two to a biger 2 x 4 pot. Today I interplanted the peas and the wheat that the birds got and some other bare spots. Dug a larger hole, put the two plants still in their root ball into the hole. They are about 6 inches tall and Stupice has flowers. Leaned each plant out sideways, and piled dirt on them, gently, so that only their noses are sticking out. As they get bigger, I will put cages on them.

The Princepe Borghese is a splendid tomato for drying. It is THE Italian drying tomato. We did a test one year of all the different tomatoes we were growing. Some turned black, even. the Borghese is a small tomato. Slice it in half and lay it in the sun. Nothing bothers it. Get them out there in the cool, so the hot sun hits the tomato and seals it. Pasturize. Bag them up. throw into the water along with the Pasta.

Buen Gusto!

-- Mary (, April 16, 1999.

Will see what happens this year with tomato blight. One thing to be aware of is that the cause of the late blight disease in tomatoes and potatoes is the same as that which caused the Irish potato famine years ago. This has now arrived in the US- so-far, it has not created overwintering infestations in the soil, but this may sson change. iF IT does, we may be in for big trouble. (Has to do with mating types, etc- and is likely arriving from Mexico I believe).

anyway- I've heard about some recent research on using compost tea for blight infections- so- if you don't already have compost cooking- start some ASAP- then brew some compst tea and spray away- about once per week I believe. I'll be doing this on several crops this year- don't have the references for the research but believe it was out of Oregon. (not much snow this am- just a dusting on the ground, cars, porch-I want SPRING!) Needless to say, the only way I grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplants etc up here is inside massive plastic covered structures.....

-- anita (, April 17, 1999.

Anita, late blight is indeed very serious, as you suggest, and can kill a plant in two or three days. It's becoming prevalent in all areas--I found sites from British Columbia to Florida. Here's a warning sign to plant alternative foods along with your potatoes and tomatoes, e.g., bell peppers for vitamin C and perhaps those wild potatoes mentioned in another thread or some other sort of starchy vegetable.

I went to Alta Vista Advanced and plugged in "late AND blight NEAR tomato OR potato" and came up with tens of thousands of hits! Of the half dozen or so I looked at, most recommended spraying/treating plants/potatoes with a fungicide--copper recommended for organic growers. The following site, however, had more information about avoidance techniques. (Note that late blight is not a seed-borne disease.)


Several control measures plus observation are absolute necessities if late blight is to be properly controlled. Tomato growers should purchase disease-free transplants. This is not a seed borne disease in tomatoes. Observe your fields thoroughly each day, especially when cool and wet weather prevails. Begin a fungicide spray program at the first sign of disease, or before, if late blight is present in your area in other fields. Ask your county agent about currently recommended fungicides. Include broad spectrum fungicides in your spray program. Do not rely on narrow spectrum fungicides because resistance in the fungus population may increase and no control will be achieved with the narrow spectrum fungicide. Such a situation was found in 1993 in Florida. Volunteer tomato or potato plants should be destroyed.

Potato growers should:

1.Purchase certified, disease-free seed pieces. 2.Prior to planting, seed should be stored in a dry location. 3.When preparing seed pieces or while planting, examine seed pieces for tuber disorders and destroy suspect seed. Ask your county agent about getting a diagnosis of seed piece disorders. Remember, prevention is the key to success. 4.Destroy cull piles. 5.Destroy volunteer potato or tomato plants. 6.Plant resistant varieties. The varieties Atlantic, Kennebec, Pungo, Sebago, and Wauseon have a high degree of resistance to common races of late blight and can be grown in Florida. All red-skin varieties and the varieties Superior and La Chipper are more susceptible than above mentioned varieties. 7.Begin a spray program with fungicides recommended by your county agent if late blight is in your area (other fields included), or weather conditions (see above) are suitable for late blight development. Forecasting systems, like that in the Hasting's area can help in deciding when to spray. 8.Kill infected foliage prior to harvest to minimize tuber infection. 9.Storage of potatoes, even for one day, should be under dry and ventilated conditions. 10.Discard infected tubers prior to storage or transit.

-- Old Git (, April 17, 1999.

Came across a related article in--gasp!--an old Organic Gardening, Oct 1955. Besides the helpful information above, the article notes that, "USDA researchers believe that the late blight fungus will probably be able to quickly become resistant to any new fungicide that might be developed. So they are working to breed resistance to the disease into modern potato varities by CROSS-BREEDING THEM WITH WILD POTATOES FROM PERU THAT HAVE NATURAL RESISTANCE TO THE BLIGHT. . . ." [Emphasis supplied.]

There's a thread about these potatoes in the Food archive--search on wild potatoes. If anyone gets any info, please post to wild potatoes thread. Thanks from

-- Starchy Old Git (, April 21, 1999.

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