WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Tomato producers needing some quick, expert advice about their plants could find it right in their pockets with Purdue Extension's Tomato Doctor mobile app.
The app can help them 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.
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 could help growers 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."
The Tomato Doctor is just one tool producers have to manage their crops. The Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers, offered for free download at Purdue Extension's The Education Store, also offers helpful advice.
Beckerman also pointed out that not all insects are bad and need to be eliminated. The app makes that distinction.
"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
This software is the fourth "Doctor" app developed by Purdue Extension specialists. Preceding it were the Tree Doctor, Annual Flower Doctor and Perennial Flower Doctor apps.