Tomato Problems: How to Identify and Treat Septoria Leaf Spot
Septoria leaf spot, caused by the fungus Septoria lycopersici, is sometimes mistaken for early blight in tomatoes – and vice versa. In fact, tomato plants can be infected with both at the same time. Fortunately, it’s not hard to distinguish between the two. Plus, they can be treated similarly.
What does Septoria leaf spot look like?
Photo: Iowa State University
Lower leaves show symptoms first
Round, yellow or water-soaked spots appear on the undersides of leaves. They quickly emerge on leaf tops and turn to black or brown with tiny black dots in the center.
Heavily infected leaves turn completely yellow, then brown, and fall.
Spotting works its way up the plant and can infect stems.
Septoria leaf spot does not display characteristic “target” or concentric spots seen in early blight.
Fruit is rarely infected.
When does Septoria leaf spot affect plants?
It can attack at any point in the season
It strikes frequently in early to mid-season
It’s most common in humid weather
It often affects tomato plants after a period of heavy rainfall
How do you control and treat leaf spot?
The best control measure is prevention (see below).
Remove and destroy infected leaves (be sure to wash your hands afterwards to keep fungus from spreading unnecessarily).
Treat organically with a copper spray, which you can purchase at the hardware store or home improvement center. Follow label directions. You can apply until the leaves are dripping, once a week and after each rain.
Once blight is present and progresses, it becomes more resistant to biofungicide and fungicide. Treat it as soon as possible and on a schedule.
Treat organically with a biofungicide like Serenade (available as a spray and in a concentrate) to lessen symptoms. Follow label instructions. Or apply a fungicide such as chlorothalonil (sold as Fungonil),
Mancozeb Fungicide, or
Daconil at the first sign of blight when fruit sets (as a preventative measure) or when conditions indicate a strong potential for it to develop. Follow label directions. Re-apply every 7-10 days or after rain. Other diseases (such as early blight, late blight, and gray leaf spot) can be controlled by these biofungicides and fungicides, so application is multi-purpose.