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All About Tomatoes

Tomato scouting workshop focuses on tackling pests and diseases

by Teresa Dorado and Amy Wu

Leer en Español

On July 19, the Hudson Valley Farm Hub and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program held a public hands-on tomato scouting workshop in Spanish at the Farm Hub. The event included a review and discussion of common high tunnel tomato enemies such as fungal disease and potassium deficiency. Presenters shared pest identification tips and resources to help tackle tomato pests such as Aphids, Stink Bugs, and Thrips. 

Educators from Cornell University’s New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM) set up a variety of diseased tomato plants for learning.

Presenters included Alejandro Calixto, Director of NYS Integrated Pest Management, and Juan Luis Gonzalez-Giron from Cornell.  

Workshop organizers chose to focus on tomatoes as “tomatoes offer a good opportunity to see different insect and plant diseases,” says Calixto. Tomatoes are also one of the most common crops grown in high tunnels in New York and at the Farm Hub. 

Samuel Saucedo (center) examines a tomato suffering from potassium deficiency, notable by general yellowing.
Spanish-speaking staff from the Farm Hub attended the workshop.

A key goal of the workshop was to offer basic Integrated Pest Management principles to farm employees working in vegetable production and share information on pests and plant diseases, and how to prevent them. 

Rosa Villegas (center) and Farm Hub production team members practice identifying common diseases in tomatoes.
Eustacio Mil Quino inquiries more about fungal diseases.

“Farm employees are on the front lines of pest and pest management issues, they are major players to the wellbeing of agricultural systems in New York,” Calixto says. “At the end of the workshop the students were effectively identifying pests and beneficial insects, and had a better understanding, that when it comes to pests, prevention is always preferable to intervention.”

Alejandro Calixo director of New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYSIPM) points to specimens of the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species that damages many herbaceous plants, and encourages everyone to report its presence to NYSIPM.

The workshop was well received by attendees, many of them from the production team. 

Invasive species in the region include the Spotted Lanternfly. This display shows specimens of the Spotted Lanternfly’s life cycle.
A potassium-deficient tomato is often yellow in color.

“I think the workshop was nice and understandable. It talked a lot about pests and diseases and how to identify them,” says Rosa Villegas, Vegetable Production Co-manager at HVFH.  “For me, it was helpful to identify insects and diseases on the plants. There are times when I’ll look at a tomato and I don’t know if it’s a disease or not.” Tomatoes are one of more than a dozen high tunnel crops grown for distribution through our community partners via our Food Access Program. This year, 7,500 sf. of trellised high tunnel tomatoes were grown, and an expected 12,500 pounds will be distributed — as with most of our vegetables — to food pantries in Kingston and throughout the region.

Juan Luis Gonzalez-Giron from Cornell points to signs of disease on a tomato plant leaf.

Click below for more information and to access handouts from the workshop. 

High Tunnel Tomato Pest Workshop Handouts:

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