Tomato growers get quick, expert help from ‘Doctor’ app

June 20, 2014  


TomatoDoc_Cover

The cover of Purdue Extension’s Tomato Doctor, an app that helps gardeners identify and diagnose problems with their tomato plant and offers solutions. (Purdue Agricultural Communication graphic)  
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Home gardeners needing some quick, expert advice about their tomato plants will find it right in their pockets with Purdue Extension's Tomato Doctor mobile app.

The app will help gardeners diagnose problems and offer solutions to get their plants back to a healthy condition, said Janna Beckerman, a Purdue Extension plant disease specialist and content specialist for the app.

"Even people who don't consider themselves gardeners grow tomatoes," Beckerman noted. "And every year, all of us tomato growers confront different problems. This app is designed to help home tomato growers identify problems and find a useful solution so they can thoroughly enjoy more tomatoes."

The Tomato Doctor covers more than 80 common - and not so common - insect, disease and environmental problems that occur throughout the United States and around the world. It includes nearly 500 high-quality images to help users identify problems involving their plants.

Correctly identifying problems will help gardeners avoid using pesticides on their plants unnecessarily, Beckerman said.

"Not every problem needs a pesticide to manage it," she said. "But when they are needed, we always start with the least toxic approach, and we try to recommend common varieties that are more resistant to certain problems. Sometimes, switching varieties is all that is needed. But for some people, they have to grow Brandywine or Speckled Roman, which may require a bit more protection."

Beckerman also pointed out that not all insects are bad and need to be eliminated. The app makes that distinction.

TomatoDoc_Pest

A screen shot from the Tomato Doctor app shows users the brown marmorated stink bug, a pest, on a tomato. (Purdue Agricultural Communication graphic 
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"We included some common beneficial insects so growers don't mistake a helpful insect for a harmful one," she said.

The app is available for 99 cents at these stores:

* iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/purdue-tomato-doctor/id887422661?mt=8

* Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.purdue.ceris.doctor.tomato

The device is the fourth "Doctor" app developed by Purdue Extension specialists. Preceding it were the Tree Doctor, Annual Flower Doctor and Perennial Flower Doctor apps.

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu 

Source: Janna Beckerman, 765-494-4628, jbeckerm@purdue.edu 

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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