New tomato hybrid resists three fungal diseases

03/22/2013 08:00:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Iron Lady hybrid tomatoCourtesy High Mowing Organic SeedsIron Lady tomato hybridCornell University breeders have developed a tomato with natural resistance to three major fungal diseases: early blight, late blight and Septoria leaf spot.

Known as Iron Lady, the variety should help growers cut production expenses and environmental impact by reducing the number of fungicides they have to apply, according to a news release.

The variety is the work of Martha Mutschier-Chu, a Cornell professor of plant breeding and genetics, as well as research associate Stella Zitter and plant pathologist Tom Zitter.

Because early blight tolerance is not as strong as with the other diseases, fungicides may not be completely eliminated, according to the release.

Trials involving the hybrid were successfully grown in North Carolina, West Virginia and New York.

In those trials, weekly fungicide sprays were reduced to once or twice per season.

"Tolerance alone is not enough, spray alone is not enough, but together there is good synergy," Mutschler-Chu said in the release.

Iron Lady is a cross of a triple resistant Cornell University line and a late blight-early blight-resistant line from North Carolina State University.

The crosses were made using traditional breeding techniques, and the hybrids are not genetically modified organisms.

Seeds will be available through High Mowing Organic Seeds, Wolcott, Vt.



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