Recently Ann Macharia with Daily Nation visited Mwikali, who grows a variety of crops that include tomatoes and capsicum, in Limuru. As many other farmers growing the crops currently, her major challenge is early blight infestation due to the cold season, which is accompanied by rain in some places and temperature fluctuations. Early blight is a deadly fungal infection that affects the leaves, stems, and in severe cases, the fruits.
While the crops in the greenhouses are doing well, those in the open field that were at the flowering stage, have leaves with brown lesions, which had concentric rings. Some of them are yellowing.
Early blight initially manifests itself on leaves as circular brown lesions on the older foliage near the ground. It thrives best in heavy dew (colder mornings), frequent rainfall and warm conditions. The disease also occurs in dry spell especially if the crop is under irrigation.
In humid areas, all the leaves may be affected but in dry areas only the lower leaves are affected spreading the disease to the other parts of the plant.
Crop nutrition should be well taken care of by applying the required fertiliser using the recommended rates in line with the soil test analysis as this maintains the crop vigour. Crop support in tomatoes is also vital as this increases air circulation around the plant and facilitates airflow and penetration of chemicals and biopesticides.
Early blight results in lowered tomato production and increases costs. It should not be confused with late blight, which affects tomatoes, especially during the late stage of the growing season.
Read more at: Daily Nation (Ann Macharia)