Posted on 22 August 2009 by

Reader Questions: Tomato Blight

late-blightBy Vanessa Richins

This season, we have a lot of readers concerned about the late blight that has spread throughout the Northeastern United States. Here’s 2 reader questions about the tomatoes themselves.


“Good morning, I had many of my tomato plants infected with the fungus.Some of the cherry tomato plants that were next to the infected ones appear normal. The tomatoes are red and without white spots. Is it safe to eat these tomatoes? Thank you for your help and time. Have a nice day. P.s. Is this fungus harmful to humans if ingested?”


“Can tomatoes be eaten from plants that show blight–I pulled out all my plants but some tomatoes are still green and sitting in the sun.I would like to know if they’re safe to eat if they turn red.”

Hi! The virus itself is not harmful to humans, so they are safe to eat. It depends on if they start showing signs of blight. So far it sounds like yours will be edible, Anthony. Just cut them open first to look for any signs of rot.

I have read in some places that the flavor may also be affected – as the Penn State Master Gardeners point out,” fungus infected fruit may have a higher than normal pH that could make it unsafe for canning. This is true for other fungal infections of tomato as well.” If anyone is planning to can blight-affected tomatoes, be sure to read their post about canning.

Debbie, you’ll have to watch your tomatoes as they ripen. It’s possible that they could still turn out to be affected by the late blight as they ripen.

Good luck, and I hope you are able to eat at least some of your tomatoes this year.

4 Responses to “Reader Questions: Tomato Blight”

  1. Benjamin Wolfe Says:

    This disease is NOT caused by a virus, but by a fungus-like microorganism (Oomycete) called Phytophthora. It’s technically not even a fungus, but that is probably getting too picky.

    It’s important to make these distinctions for two reasons: 1) so that the general biology of these emerging diseases is clear to the general public and 2) so people can apply the right kind of pest control. In this case, if you applied something that was supposed to attack viral diseases of plants, nothing would happen.


  2. Terri Robinson Says:

    is it safe start tomatoes from Heirloom seeds? or are hybrid seeds better?

  3. Says:

    Yes, in fact heirloom seeds are a wonderful to use for planting. Hybrid seeds aren’t necessarily better or worse, they are just different. Sometimes hybrid seeds may be created to be more disease resistant or to emphasize traits that are desirable or de-emphasize traits that are undesirable. Sort of like the difference between an orange tomato and a yellow tomato. Neither one is better than the other. Just preference.

  4. jessie thompson Says:

    Do not eat tomatoes that are suspect for blight, I did and within fifteen minutes I was having cardiac arrythmias. It passed in a few hours but the feeling was very disturbing,

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments