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Tomatoes: Leaves at the very top of tomato plants curled and stunted

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playinindirt
Harwinton, CT

June 21, 2010
9:44 AM

Post #7907529

My husband has a row of a variety of tomatos and each one has the same problem with the very top new growth curled up and stunted. Can anyone identify the problem?

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Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

June 21, 2010
1:19 PM

Post #7908178

Wow! That's depressing! Sure are some beautiful flowers beneath that, though. Has anyone been spraying weed killer nearby that might have blown over to the tops of your plants?

How tall are the plants?

And where is Harwinton?
playinindirt
Harwinton, CT

June 21, 2010
2:33 PM

Post #7908376

No, no weed killer used in the area and the plants are about 30" now.

Harwinton is just east of Litchfield and south of Torrington, in the northwest hills.
MaypopLaurel
Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

June 21, 2010
2:38 PM

Post #7908388

Are those webs on the right side leaves? I'd like to see closer photos. I was wondering if you have spider mites. Am going to be out of internet pocket in a few days.
Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

June 21, 2010
3:30 PM

Post #7908517

Beautiful area! I tried to get up to White Flower Farms (?), and least once a year. Then it's off to Talbot's and that wonderful litle restaurant up the street with the wonderful pate! Didn't make it this Spring, doggone it...
playinindirt
Harwinton, CT

June 21, 2010
5:14 PM

Post #7908749

No, they're not webs. That's a grayish coloring to the curled leaves.
playinindirt
Harwinton, CT

June 21, 2010
5:18 PM

Post #7908758

Yes, it's a lovely area but being high up we get colder and more ice/snow in the winter, which I really don't mind as I love winter time (skied most of my adult life.) I've learned not to plant anything outdoors until May 25, last frost date.
Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

June 21, 2010
5:41 PM

Post #7908793

Funny... I'm in Lake Carmel NY, on the "snow belt". We manage to get more snow and colder temps than the surronding 6B zone, but I , too, love it! The garden is a blessing in the late Spring, Summer, and early, Fall, but nothing - no where can compare with Autumn in the NE!!! And winter is too beautiful to get upset about. I lived in Florida for alot of years, but I say...BRING ON THE SEASONS!
onyxwar
Greeley, CO
(Zone 5b)

June 21, 2010
8:06 PM

Post #7909174

I have one that is doing that too, I wish I knew what it was and how to fix it.
catmad
Pelzer, SC
(Zone 7b)

June 22, 2010
5:23 AM

Post #7909609

For me, that look was from herbicide drift, as Sequee suggests. I didn't spray, but the county did. They were attempting to control (HAH!) the kudzu on the swales.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 22, 2010
6:51 AM

Post #7909808

I've got the curling going on, but we decided on another thread that mine was due to a wet spring with good growing conditions for the plants--which caused them to outgrow the root system. Now that it is extremely hot and humid the roots have slowed down and not caught up supplying the rest of the plant. Mine are still setting fuit so I will just live with it. There is a sticky at the top of the forum with links to excellent info on leaf curl! There are several reasons for this curl and each is addressed in the links. Yeah Dave's for keeping track of all of that info!

I thought it was only me with this leaf curl. I must have done something to cause this. But I've been driving to and from work and slowing down to look at other's gardens (much to the dismay of the folks behind me--sorry!). I've noticed that everyone seems to be suffering from tomato leaf curl in my immediate area this summer. I'm sure some of it is due to herbicide drift (we are out in a very rural area and the counties' workers have been out working on the ditches), or early blight, or anything else mentioned in the links. I think in our area it may mostly be due to the weather conditions.

Sequee, I lived in FL for ten years. I really missed the leave changing. Loved the fun plants you could grow down there, but my eyes just got so tired of all that green in the fall and winter.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 22, 2010
7:27 AM

Post #7909940

That is exactly the same problem I have on most of my tomatoes- some hd to be replaced, and some look like they will be OK- The determinate ones will not grow any more.Indet. are doing better. Definitely not spider mites.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 22, 2010
7:41 AM

Post #7909975

If there is a gray growth I'm thinking mold/fungus but I'm no expert. Here is a link but you can always contact your local extension agent and email them the picture.
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/publications/tomatoproblemsolver/
playinindirt
Harwinton, CT

June 22, 2010
9:28 AM

Post #7910260

Now it has spread up to my upper garden to my tomatoes. No, it cannot be herbicide drift because our property is in the woods and far from the road and there are no other houses close by. I went down to look at my husbands tomatos (we have a little competition going on here) and the wilting has spread further down on his plants. AND HEAR THIS. . .on last night's news they said the tomato blight that hit us last year is starting again due to people using seeds from last years plants and also by tossing their sick plants onto their compost heaps. I just went out and sprayed everything with an all purpose fungicide.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 22, 2010
9:53 AM

Post #7910324

That's sure not what any of us wanted to hear. I wondered about the seeds passing it to the next generation. I had read it wasn't possible but it makes sense to me. Good Luck!
Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

June 22, 2010
12:41 PM

Post #7910740

I, too, have heard that the seeds cannot pass along the LB because it needs living tissue to survive.

The main reason they are thinking that it might be present again is from the potatoes. The spores can stay alive through the living roots that have been left behind in the ground, and let's face it...If you've ever grown potatoes, you KNOW there's no way to get up EVERYTHING from the ground.

Our salvation may come with these hot temps, though. If the weather continues to be hot and not rainy, the blight will not take hold.

I personally think that many people are panicking because of last year. They "see the signs" and see LB, when it's really some form of EB.

And, now, let us pray!
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 22, 2010
3:31 PM

Post #7911130

Are these blights prevalent in the NW? I had read of it in the East last year. This is getting scary. All my plants were from new seeds I got through reputable seed companies, so that's not a possibility. Also, none of my leaves have any grey- very green, just curled. Guess I need to go take photos- be back soon-
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 22, 2010
3:48 PM

Post #7911177

They say LB is east of the Mississippi, but I'm sure you have some kind of blight too.
Jo-sometimes the leaves just curl and you never completely know why. Terri's explanation does sounds very likely considering the crazy weather in TX.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 22, 2010
3:48 PM

Post #7911178

I jus went out and took these photos- this is an Early Girl

This message was edited Jun 22, 2010 2:49 PM

Thumbnail by JoParrott
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JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 22, 2010
3:49 PM

Post #7911181

This is Oregon Spring

Thumbnail by JoParrott
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1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 22, 2010
3:50 PM

Post #7911184

Jo-have you added a source of nitrogen recently. Mine did that last year when I added too much horse poop to some I had in containers. They did outgrow it.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 22, 2010
3:51 PM

Post #7911185

Last, Yellow Cherry- I have several more with the problem, but it wouldn't help any to show them-

Thumbnail by JoParrott
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JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 22, 2010
3:52 PM

Post #7911191

Now, that could be- I use horse doo a lot- but it's well composted-
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 22, 2010
3:56 PM

Post #7911204

So was this, tomatoes don't need a lot of N. but usually high N will slow down blooming and it doesn't look like you are having that problem.
Have the temps gotten warmer recently?
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

June 22, 2010
4:35 PM

Post #7911315

Summer has NOT arrived in the NW yet! We have had cold, rainy, windy weather forever!Today is 82, and the rest of the week is supposed to get warmer- I sure hope so. I just put cucumber plants in yesterday for the 3rd time! They just kept rotting-
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 22, 2010
6:52 PM

Post #7911820

We have just the opposite problem. Hot and humid but I'm not sure if I would recognize a rain drop if it hit me.
Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

June 23, 2010
5:12 AM

Post #7912693

We had a nice rain last even and through the night. Much appreciated and enjoyed.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 23, 2010
6:31 AM

Post #7912927

The interesting thing about the leaf curl is that, in my case, the tomato horn worms are leaving those plants alone. There may be more that one reason for that. I've noticed that the potato leafed tomatoes are only showing mild if any symtoms of the curl, but the horn worms are giving those more attention. Perhaps the potato leaf tomato plants are more attractive in some way to the THW's?

I think I'm going to have to break down and spray for the worms. I'm working long hours right now and just can't seem to keep up with those little devils once I get home with hand picking alone. I know the girls (my hens) will be dissapointed as they look forward to the nightly treats, but there you go. And I know the blue birds and mocking birds have been doing their own hand picking because I see them diving in and out of the rows of tomatoes. I have some insecticidal soap to use. Does anyone know if this will harm the birds if they eat a worm affected by the soap? I've not sprayed for anything really in years so I'm really behind the curve in my knowledge of the sprays. The label says no, but those labels can often be wrong.

Also, despite the leaf curl, the plants are still producing. I've got a number of larger, green tomatoes waiting to rippen. And I've been harvesting many smaller-than-normal-but-still-good-tasting tomatoes. So if I can just get ahead of the THW's I think I will be OK. There's really not much we can do about the weather. We've not had rain in weeks, and the one rain storm we had was a frog strangler. If it weren't for that storm I think we would be in an official drought in out area. So the soaker hoses are getting a workout.

On a brighter note the watermelons are coming on and the zucchini is zuc'ing!
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 23, 2010
9:12 AM

Post #7913402

Terri-What types are you growing? I'm always looking for tomatoes that people have had good luck with in this crazy TX environment.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 23, 2010
10:15 AM

Post #7913569

Well, I kind of went crazy because I've not had much luck with tomatoes in the past three years. I just started picking any variety that looked like it would grow in the hot and humid summers we have. Right now Kellogg's Breakfast and Charlie Chaplin are looking pretty good. Charlie Chaplin was a freebie so that just makes it look that much better. Of the determinates, 1st Pick and Extreme Bush--both sent by twiggybuds (thanks again!)--are producing well although both have the leaf curl we have been discussing. I can't really say that anything in particular is doing outstanding, but if any of the larger greenies ripen and can finally be picked, then I may change my mind. I have also noticed that the plants I put out earliest are the ones with the most leaf curl. So I am thinking that--in my case only--the weather this spring has contributed to this.

The potato leafed varieties have been slow to take off, but they are coming on.

I will have to go home and look as I have some Italian tomatoes that are coming on too, but I can't remember the names right off the top of my head. I'm not really going to say which are doing awful for me now as those might do very well next year =~'. (The Cub's fan factor strikes again!)

I got some seed for this fall of Celebration F1. I know it is a hybrid, but I don't really wory about that if it produces well in this weather. I got it late as an after thought with some watermelon seeds from Willhite's. I figure they grow and sell in Texas so they might know something. Taste is the thing, though, isn't it?

I can't really remember much of your list from this spring, 1lisac. I remember thinking that we had a few of the same varieties, though. Have you got any that are really impressing you so far?

I grew all of my tomatoes from seed. All came from reputable sources (Territorial, Seeds from Italy, Marianna's, Cherrygal.com and gifts) so I'm being very unscientific when I say that I don't think my leaf curl situation was inherited through the seeds.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 23, 2010
3:20 PM

Post #7914417

Terri- Thai Pink Egg is the one that has put on numerous fruit that have ripened. I have a lot of fruit set but they haven't ripened. They'll probably wait until I go out of town around the 4th! This blight thing just won't stop either, I found a small lesion on a plant that I just put in a couple weeks ago. I have never had this problem before, and I'm spraying with daconil. I have noticed some leaves on the top of some of the plants that have lesions too, but then the side shoot looks great. If it was cooler I would go out there and pull off any leaves with signs of disease then I could really tell if it was spreading, but today is the hottest day yet 97* so it will have to wait. I will let you know as the season progresses.
Lisa
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 23, 2010
3:36 PM

Post #7914462

That is definately caused by herbicide drift. The compost I put in my bed was contaminated with either 2,4-D or Clopyralid. My tomato plants look exactly like yours. The leaves will be smaller, intially tightly curled and grow out over time and the fruit will be elongated. The branches, flower and flower clusters may also curl.

If it is a one time contamination from drift or compost, don't panic. It won't cause any serious problems other than curled leaves and shorter plants. Mine seem to be growing out of it. Your's may too.
playinindirt
Harwinton, CT

June 23, 2010
4:07 PM

Post #7914534

JoParrott. . . The top new growth coming in on mine looks more like the new young fern fronds in early spring. . .tightly curled. So far, the plants are holding their own and I know for a fact, because the way our gardens are situated, that there was absolutely no herbicide drift that could have caused it. Two of my determinate plants were got so bad I had to pull them out and destroy them.
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 23, 2010
4:20 PM

Post #7914588

Herbicides typically come from other sources such as manure, straw mulch or compost than a neighbor's yard. Sometimes, your water supply can also be contaminated. This is a big problem for many growers that use OM amendments. I won't bother to write out the reason or site sources. Just google it or use the DG search. There are several articles on this topic.

Jim41
Delhi, LA

June 26, 2010
1:08 PM

Post #7922704

If you were in Louisiana, I'd say it was damage caused by 2x4xD drifting. I don't know if farmers up there use it or not. It will drift for miles. Everyone in our country got a dose of it last year and tomatoes were the only thing effected. We have no idea where it came from because there is a cut off date on using it. Someone was spraying it illigally.
david47
camp verde, AZ
(Zone 8a)

June 26, 2010
8:32 PM

Post #7923713

your leaf curl looks alot like 24,d damage. on a hot windy or breezy day 24,d can drift for miles.
Jim41
Delhi, LA

June 26, 2010
8:39 PM

Post #7923734

Don't pull the tomatoes. In a few days they will put on second growth and start blooming. The tomatoes won't be real large but they will make a bunch of them. 2-4-D is a growth hormone. I made a ton of them last year after the initial damage. Any tomatoes that are set below the damage won't be hurt. They will grow and mature as always. You will have a section where the damage is that will not produce.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 28, 2010
7:52 AM

Post #7927203

That is so interesting to learn, Jim41 and david47! Thank you for posting that info. I'm not really all that far from LA so you've given me another useful bit of info to file away for future ref! Do you know what crops this 24,D--or whatever it is called--is used on?
Jim41
Delhi, LA

June 28, 2010
9:11 AM

Post #7927455

It is used pre-plant to kill down woody type weeds. In pine timber they use it to kill off hardwood saplings. Some derivitives of it are used to spray under soybeans to kill weeds. The ones used under beans aren't the ones that give you trouble. If you buy a weed killer for weeds in your lawn you are using sometype of it.

Cut off date for airplane application is in March. None is supposed to be sprayed after the first of April. The other forms I mentioned are used any time.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 28, 2010
9:45 AM

Post #7927548

Ahhh, and we do have pine plantations in our area. That is really good information for me! Thank you.

I still think my main leaf curl problem is weather related, but I will hold this info in reserve as a second possiblility.
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 28, 2010
9:58 AM

Post #7927601

They use 2,4-D and Clopyralid in hay production and pastures, too. Its used for almost all broadleaf plants. I think some states still allow it to be used on lawns and golf courses.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 28, 2010
12:24 PM

Post #7927988

Ohhhhh, and our property is surrounded by hay fields...and pastures.
Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

June 28, 2010
1:27 PM

Post #7928192

Just out of curiosity, what would happen if we cut off the top foliage? Would the plant stop growing, or would it get bushier?
playinindirt
Harwinton, CT

June 29, 2010
7:19 PM

Post #7931761

I'm the one who originally started this thread and this is an update on the tomatoes. My husband has been clipping off the top curled growth but it is spreading throughout the whole plants now. I've been reading about thrips carrying Spotted Wilt to the plants and am wondering if that's what this is although I don't see any spotted leaves. ???????
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 29, 2010
7:33 PM

Post #7931789

Is there anyway you can call or email a picture to your county extension agent? Are they producing? I thought TSWV was confined to the Southern US but I really don't know. I hate to see it spread if there is something you could do to stop it.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 30, 2010
8:49 AM

Post #7932882

playinindirt, shoot! I would pull up the entire plant and take it into the co-operative extension agent!
Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

July 1, 2010
4:05 AM

Post #7934872

pid - my situation turned out to be way different from yours, but still a big concern to me...

Thumbnail by Sequee
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

July 1, 2010
4:09 AM

Post #7934877

At first the upper foliage appeared to be curling, but then I could see that it is obviously wilting. I thought the pot was holding water, so I added soil and shredded paaper to aerate it, and stopped directly watering it, and it appeared to be "normal", but the wilt got worse on the top ot the plant. Last night I realized the top of the plant was actually dead, so I snapped off the tip, and found that the main stem is HOLLOW! I have never seen this happen to one of my plants, though I do recall someone metioning something like this last year, possibly Ozark?

Here's another shot trying to capture the hollow stem...

Thumbnail by Sequee
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

July 1, 2010
4:12 AM

Post #7934881

I guess the first shot's the better of the 2 but my camera doesn't do macros, so I'm kind of at a lostt.

So far the lower part of the plant is coming in healthy. I will have to dig back through Ozark's file to see if I can find a thread. I think it was some kind of borr.

Thumbnail by Sequee
Click the image for an enlarged view.

sweetmommy
Fulshear, TX
(Zone 9b)

July 5, 2010
7:44 AM

Post #7944504

I had this problem back in June and took a cutting to my local Extension Service office (outside of Houston,TX). They diagnosed Cucumber Mosaic Virus which is spread through aphids, not anything in the soil.So I dug up my plants, through them away and planted new ones. The new ones have done exactly the same thing. They do not produce and eventually die. It has spread to my okra, watermelon, cucumber & eggplant. The only thing it has not affected is my zucchini.
Sadly, I think the best thing to do is throw (very far!) out any plant that shows these signs before it spreads.
upforachallenge
Livingston, MT
(Zone 3b)

July 5, 2010
10:46 AM

Post #7944963

I took plants that look exactly like yours into our university last year to have them diagnosed. They were 99% sure that it was herbicide damage and I don't used any synthetic chemicals or pesticides. I suspected Cucumber Mosaic but they ruled that out. Several weeks later we had a writeup in the newspaper and county extension newsletter that talked about widespread contamination in soil and compost sources. Alot of people in this area were afffected. They told me it can stay in your soil for a few years. I grow in a greenhouse and I only have this problem in one bed which has different soil, which I obtained from an outside source, the other beds are filled with soil from our land. It's really been a bugger. This is my third year dealing with it. So far, the plants are definitely showing the same signs but not as bad as previous years. Hopefully it is on it's way out.
sweetmommy
Fulshear, TX
(Zone 9b)

July 5, 2010
12:03 PM

Post #7945170

Upforachallenge...
I think that is probably correct as a few tomato seeds fell into the dirt on the side of my composted garden while I was sowing & they are all perfectly happy. They are about 5 feet away from the diseased plants but have no problems. I would think if the problem was aphids, they would have found another food source 5 feet away.
Then again, I have a neighbor who buys her compost from the same supplier & she has very healthy plants. It's frustrating!
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 5, 2010
12:48 PM

Post #7945261

I am watching with interest since I have the problem too. There seems to be no definite answer, but as most think it is soil contamination, I wonder if solarizing the area with clear plastic after the crops are out would help- I can't replace all my soil!
sweetmommy
Fulshear, TX
(Zone 9b)

July 5, 2010
1:02 PM

Post #7945291

That sounds like a good idea. Has anyone tried this?
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 5, 2010
1:27 PM

Post #7945373

I hope someone can help with this- over 2/3 of my tomatoes are affected, and I can tell they will not outgrow it. Early Girls have maybe 3 tomatoes at the bottom, and just curled stuff above- blossoms are forming but I doubt if they will grow. Celebrity, one of my all time favorites, has fruit with "nipples" on the ends!Even the replacement plants are curled and gnarled- I posted several photos earlier.My Pole Beans also are funky- leaves are puffed and quilted looking- What a discouraging year this has turned into.Spring has been wet, cold & windy. Even now it is not summer yet.
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 5, 2010
1:38 PM

Post #7945400

[quote="JoParrott"]I hope someone can help with this- over 2/3 of my tomatoes are affected, and I can tell they will not outgrow it. Early Girls have maybe 3 tomatoes at the bottom, and just curled stuff above- blossoms are forming but I doubt if they will grow. Celebrity, one of my all time favorites, has fruit with "nipples" on the ends![/quote]

Elongated fruit with 'nipples' is another sign of herbicide damage.

upforachallenge
Livingston, MT
(Zone 3b)

July 5, 2010
3:02 PM

Post #7945565

A couple of links to the problems we've had.

http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=7325

http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=8423

Dlbailey - that is exactly how the tomatoes look. I always wonder if they are safe for eating or loaded with herbicide.
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 5, 2010
3:06 PM

Post #7945573

The particular herbicides that cause this problems immulate a plant growth hormone. Effected plants are considered perfectly safe for humans and animals to consume.

This message was edited Jul 5, 2010 2:08 PM
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 5, 2010
4:38 PM

Post #7945761

dlbailey, do you think that solarizing the soil at the end of this season would help for next year? I am going to do the test that was mentioned in one of the MSU bulletins-
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 5, 2010
4:59 PM

Post #7945793

I have never heard of solarizing for breaking down this class of herbicides. According to a few articles (that I need to find to post) i've read, clopyralid and 2,4-D are primarily decomposed by microorganisms found in the soil, as opposed to light, water or composting. Under good conditions when there is apply moisture, air and warmth, it should a several weeks to a few months to breakdown.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 5, 2010
6:58 PM

Post #7946098

Well, I like that answer- one of the MSU bulletins said it can stay in the soil for years- I hope you are right. Next year I will be sure to dig big holes and add soil that I know is safe when I plant.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 5, 2010
7:11 PM

Post #7946128

What are the chances that commercial bags ie: steer manure or topsoil from Lowe's or Home Depot can be contaminated? I used a lot of that this year, and a friend gave me some horse manure from the stable where she boards her horse- I have no clue where the problem came from- but it wasn't there last year.
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 5, 2010
7:43 PM

Post #7946191

[quote="JoParrott"]Well, I like that answer- one of the MSU bulletins said it can stay in the soil for years- I hope you are right. Next year I will be sure to dig big holes and add soil that I know is safe when I plant. [/quote]
Years? The longest I read was 1-2 years at most in compost not soil, but generally its 6 months to a year. This has to do with the compost process binding the herbicide in a way that it prevents it from breaking down.

Washington State has a very helpful site about clopyralid. http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/soilmgmt/Clopyralid.htm They have a link to a study about the various levels of contamination. The conclusion is that it does cause damage but plants in contaminated compost do better than those in unamended soil.
Ozark
Ozark, MO
(Zone 6a)

July 5, 2010
8:08 PM

Post #7946240

"Last night I realized the top of the plant was actually dead, so I snapped off the tip, and found that the main stem is HOLLOW! I have never seen this happen to one of my plants, though I do recall someone mentioning something like this last year, possibly Ozark?"
--------------------------------

Sequee, sorry for the slow reply. I just got around to reading this thread.

Yes, last year I had a hard time with stalk borers in my tomato plants. The symptoms are sudden - a whole healthy branch or a whole tomato plant wilts and dies overnight just like you'd cut it off with a knife.

I'd never heard of those things before last year, and they're real bad. The stalk borer moth lays eggs in tall grass or weeds in the fall. In the spring the eggs hatch and the worm bores into the nearest stalk, usually the grass where the eggs were laid. In June the larvae get too large for a grass stem and travel just a few feet to bore into a larger plant where they hollow out the stalks and eventually kill the plant.

I built a wire fence with 2" x 4" mesh around my vegetable garden, but I soon found that small rabbits can go right through the mesh. I attached chicken wire to the bottom 2 feet of the fence and that stopped the bunnies but it made a place where tall grass can grow up between the wires and I can't cut it with a weed whacker. This past fall I made SURE there was no tall grass standing in that fence over the winter and I haven't had any trouble this year with stalk borers.

http://www.vegedge.umn.edu/vegpest/SWTCORN/cstalk.htm
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 5, 2010
9:14 PM

Post #7946363

http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=7325 This article says that contamination can last years, if not decades- are they incorrect (I hope)?
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 5, 2010
9:45 PM

Post #7946408

How do they know it lasts for decades if these herbicides have only been around for less than 15 years? I did read how there was evidence that bean plants can take up the herbicide and hold it in their tissue releasing some the next year if the plants are left in the field. The effects were reported for up to 4 years. Perhaps, this is what they mean as persisting for years.

Here is something from Ohio State about the different herbicides in compost http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/0714.html
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 5, 2010
10:51 PM

Post #7946501

Thanks, dlbailey for all of your info- this really has me worried-
deanna8
Raeford, NC

July 5, 2010
11:13 PM

Post #7946531

Sequee and Ozark mine did the same thing. It was 6 ft tall, hated to tear it out.Didn't want my other plants to die since did not know what it was.It was nice and green but thought the bottom looked woody so cut open the stem and saw it was hollow.Thought it looked like the pictures for the F wilt. Planted in straw so am hoping everything won't die since no soil for things to spread.
Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

July 6, 2010
5:03 AM

Post #7946701

I only have one plant affected - OZx3! Just my luck, eh?

On the upside, both #2's are doing great - though the fruit look different. Both are oblate, flat, but one appears to be smooth and the other is very lobed. They are still very small, though, so things may change.

Sorry playin...back to the issue at hand...
sweetmommy
Fulshear, TX
(Zone 9b)

July 6, 2010
7:33 PM

Post #7948649

We may have a couple of different problems that resemble each other because no herbicides (or anything else non-organic) have been used around my garden & I'm on 5 acres, far from neighbors. I've even asked my neighbors on both sides if they had used anything and the answer was "no".
I have used a locally made compost of mostly horse,chicken & cow manure as garden soil.
Sequee
Carmel, NY
(Zone 6b)

July 6, 2010
7:38 PM

Post #7948663

Have you checked for Ozark's borer? I didn't find any evidence of it, but will be diligent in my CSI: Garden routine. There IS evidence, we just have to find it.
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 6, 2010
8:07 PM

Post #7948733

[quote="sweetmommy"]We may have a couple of different problems that resemble each other because no herbicides (or anything else non-organic) have been used around my garden & I'm on 5 acres, far from neighbors. I've even asked my neighbors on both sides if they had used anything and the answer was "no".
I have used a locally made compost of mostly horse,chicken & cow manure as garden soil.[/quote]
Manure is considered one of the main sources of herbicide contamination. Clopyralid in particular moves through the digestive tract in tact. It along with 2,4-D is used quite frequently in hay production and pastures. When animals consume the grass or hay they also consume the herbicide.

There is a discussion on the soil and composting forum about this issue. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1099022/ Some people have given up using manure altogether.

Jim41
Delhi, LA

July 6, 2010
10:20 PM

Post #7948944

I'm right in the middle of farming country where 24D is used every year and has been used for probably the last 25 years. It doesn't give us any effects. I'm sure it drifts across my compost pile and raised beds every year when the farmer on either side of me kills down there fields. The only problem I ever had was last year when some one apparently flew some after the cut off date. It only effected my tomatoes and they looked like the ones in the photo. In a few weeks the tomatoes put on new growth and made a ton in the top. Any tomatoes that were already on the stalk it didn't effect. From where it got on the plants down to the fruit didn't make anything.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 7, 2010
7:28 AM

Post #7949436

Well, well, well, decomposed by soil borne micro-organisms you say? Here come my beni-nematodes! I haven't sprayed the veg garden area yet as it is new. It is slated for some benis this fall. I'm not having this problem with my roses--and you would think I would. But those beds were sprayed with benis to help get rid of the fire ants. Is this yet another job for my little friends? They are standing at allert, their little hands on their little hips, and their little blue capes fluttering heroically in the breeze!
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 7, 2010
8:11 AM

Post #7949536

I don't like chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, either. They have never been used in my garden for good reasons. The ability to persist in the environment is one of their biggest drawbacks, IMO. Posting info about particular herbicides should not be taken as an endorsement.

Nematodes shouldn't be that helpful in breaking down manmade chemicals. Bacteria and fungi are the primary decomposers in the soil foodweb. They have to work on materials first before anything else has a chance to consume them. Beni-nematodes, from what I understand, are more for keeping parasitic nematodes and other anthropoids in check.
Ozark
Ozark, MO
(Zone 6a)

July 7, 2010
8:36 AM

Post #7949598

I'll chip in with my low-tech knowledge of what little I know about it.

Plants that look like that have been exposed to some toxic substance they don't like. Herbicide, gasoline, diesel oil, a non-plant-friendly insecticide - something.

Herbicide drift causes just that effect, of course, but I've seen other things cause it. One spring my wife called an exterminator because we had little sugar ants in our kitchen. The exterminator came and got rid of the ants and he left us a spray can of what he said was a good insecticide to use if we saw ants again. Shortly after, I saw flea beetles on my tomato plants - so like a dummy, I sprayed them with the exterminator's stuff. Bad mistake - the plants reacted exactly like the ones in the picture, so that insecticide can must have had a petroleum-based propellant.

Another time, at a bus stop in Southern California there was some landscaping and a flower bed near the benches where people wait for buses, right by the curb. Someone planted some tomatoes there, and they showed exactly the same curl-leaf effect though they didn't die. Buses were often parked and left idling just a few feet away, and diesel fumes caused that.

At times I've gotten careless with Round Up (spraying on a windy day) and damaged tomato plants like that. All I know is that SOMETHING toxic damaged your plants - and if it doesn't kill them outright and if exposure to the toxic substance stops, they'll come out of it. I doubt that it's a left-over herbicide in your soil, because the plants would have died as seedlings in that case.

If you recently added animal manure and it caused that effect, then the toxic substance might be ammonia from manure that's too fresh.
Fitsy
Hayesville, NC
(Zone 7a)

July 8, 2010
9:26 AM

Post #7952384

I have 5 kinds of cherry tomatoes that I grew from storebought seeds.
When still seedlings, their top leaves got that tight leathery curl.

I wish I had made more careful notes. I believe the curl began when I
first repotted them, and I probably used mushroom compost, which
contains horse and chicken manure, according to the seller.

Most of the plants have outgrown the problem. The most severely
affected were the green grape, and they still have it. I did put mushroom
compost in all the planting holes.

I can't think of any other kind of contamination here. I am choosy about
what I breath - don't use air fresheners, bug spray, etc. Around the house,
that is. Long after the tomatoes were growing, I did spray flea beetles that
were trashing the eggplants. Aha - maybe contamination in the mushroom
compost weakened the eggplants!

Fitsy

Fitsy
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 14, 2010
8:12 AM

Post #7967588

I have done a lot of online reading on this subject of contaminated composts and soils- this is not a new problem- some of the extension articles date back to 2001, and it sounds like nothing has or is being done to stop the contaminating. I'm sure big money and power are involved- aren't they always? Just Google "contaminated compost" and you can read for days. Here is just one link that gives a good summary- it is long, but do read it-and worry-
http://www.jgpress.com/BCArticles/2001/070125.html
I took many samples and photos to my local extension office- they are going to see what they can find out. I am also doing the test that the articles suggest- several pots with 3 different soils, planting radishes & beans. I hope I can narrow it down. I have a neighbor who bought 2 tomatoes and filled pots with only MiracleGro potting soil, and her plants are terribly curled-
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 14, 2010
9:08 AM

Post #7967746

One of the biggest problems IMO is that compost/animal manure is considered "organic" thus safe. Most people don't consider that what the animal eats gets in the manure (as posted above). I feed hay that I buy and feed that could have anything in it. So while the compost/manure idea is organic whats in it may not be. The fertilizers and herbicides that are regularly used on hay and grain, may be very detrimental to the home garden. I do use homegrown manure and until this year I have never really thought about the possible side effects.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 15, 2010
4:19 PM

Post #7971155

The latest update from the contaminated compost thread- These are 3 Early Girls- all with "nipples"- my Celebrity is doing this too- and check next post for more weirdies!

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 15, 2010
4:21 PM

Post #7971158

Here are 2 pots of Maskotka- a neat cherry for containers- some are very sharply pointed, and some are normal!

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 15, 2010
4:24 PM

Post #7971163

Another pot- completely normal. I am totally convinced it is soil contamination, but there's no way to pin it down to a certain bag since I buy broken bags from my local Lowe's and other places- I don't trust any of them anymore! A neighbor has a badly deformed 2 pots that are both filled with nothing but MiracleGro soil. The tomatoes look exactly like mine- see the earlier posts.

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Ozark
Ozark, MO
(Zone 6a)

July 15, 2010
5:53 PM

Post #7971356

"I buy broken bags from my local Lowe's and other places"
----------------------------------

That may be the answer. Early this spring, I planted my tomato and pepper seeds in Jiffy Mix in egg cartons. Then I transplanted them up to 3" containers filled with MiracleGro Potting Mix.

I had a part of a bag of MiracleGro Potting Mix with the top folded down, left over from last year. It had been under the workbench in our garage for a year. I used that up and only had enough for half my seedlings, so I bought a fresh bag to finish transplanting.

At the time, I noticed that the potting mix in the old, opened bag was moist. I didn't have to add any water to it. Then I got the new bag and noticed the mix was dry inside. I guess the potting mix in the opened bag had picked up moisture from the air.

It soon became apparent I had a problem. Within a week, the seedlings planted in the new mix were growing nicely and the ones planted in the old mix were looking sick and not growing at all. I had to transplant the seedlings in the old mix again into the fresh stuff - and then they recovered.

I'm pretty sure some fungus was growing in that opened bag of potting mix, and it put some kind of toxin in the mix that was bad for plants. That may be what's happened at your place. Anyway, I've decided not to use opened bags of such things in the future.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 15, 2010
6:58 PM

Post #7971532

Ozark, thanks for the input- but these broken bags were new stock- just had holes in them- I don't ever buy old or wet bagged stuff- there are so many factors that I don't believe there is an answer. For the winter I plan to till my soil well, add some redworms, cover it all with newspaper and see what happens next year. By the way, a lady at the Master Gardeners office told me to get "red wigglers"- don't use garden worms, because they can be "aggressive"- Now, I ask you- what is an aggressive earthworm??? and what is the difference between red wigglers and garden worms?? They may die in the contaminated soil, anyway! Or I may end up with a whole new species! Ain't gardening fun!
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 15, 2010
7:04 PM

Post #7971552

How can you tell if a worm is aggressive and how could that be a problem?
pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

July 15, 2010
7:13 PM

Post #7971572

The worm is aggressive if it is wearing tiny boxing gloves and behaving like a bully to the other worms.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 15, 2010
7:14 PM

Post #7971576

Beats me- I wish I had asked her when I was there. I had taken samples of my deformed plants(as the photos I have been posting show) and I found out that it is difficult to get info from them, as they are all volunteers and every day there is a new staff! I have had 3 calls, and none of them were aware of the others calls of info! However, thanks to the internet, I have concluded that for about 10 years the bags of compost and manure being sold are contaminated with herbicides- just Google "contaminated compost" and you will get more than you want to know. Regulatory agencies have done zero to stop it- I'm sure it is like the rest of the world- money talks, and we little folks are out there alone against the powers. Sorry about getting on my soapbox, but I am thoroughly disgusted with it all. I just hope I can clean up my soil for the future somehow.
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

July 15, 2010
7:15 PM

Post #7971578

OK, pirl, let's see a photo!
pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

July 15, 2010
7:16 PM

Post #7971586

They'll beat me up if I try and photograph them.

Good luck with your contamination problem. It's sad that we have to be the victims of an industry.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 15, 2010
7:31 PM

Post #7971620

I don't see how they could regulate compost/manure. It would be almost impossible. Grains and Hay are grown in massive quantities, with a lot of money involved for the farmer. I can't imagine what I would do if the grasshoppers got in my fields and threaten to ruin my crop which I had put so much time and money into, and I was counting on the income. When people buy hay we want it "clean" no weeds, so they use herbicides. Many of these herbicides are broadleaf herbicides so they leave the crop alone but aren't good for our garden plants. I have often wondered why people that wanted to be "organic" used hay and animal manure. I use it because its cheap. For some reason I keep thinking that the hay Ive put in my garden is some how responsible for my tomato plant problems. There is a farm out here that was selling organic chicken eggs, the price of the feed was so high that there was no way they could sell the eggs and make money. Needless to say chicken manure has been found to be high in arsenic. The farmers are growing for profit not compost.
Pirl-are the boxing gloves on both ends?
pirl
(Arlene) Southold, NY
(Zone 7a)

July 16, 2010
5:34 AM

Post #7972288

Of course!

Years ago Organic Gardening had an article about being careful of the free mulch available at landfills since other items end up being part of it. Some areas had high levels of acid from batteries tossed in with debris. They recommended testing but that would add dramatically to the "free" price. To have each load tested would have to be a major problem for many/most people.

We use our own compost and nothing from the landfill/dump.
dlbailey
Central Valley, CA
(Zone 9a)

July 16, 2010
6:30 AM

Post #7972404

Most states have strong regulations and oversight on compost facilities. The problem is that many of these issues occur faster than legislastion can be passed. Manure handling and processing is controlled by the EPA and similiar state agencies.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 16, 2010
7:02 AM

Post #7972490

DH loves to watch "Dirty Jobs" on TV. I was wandering through his "den" one night and caught an episode where they were going around picking up road kill and throwing it in the municipal compost heaps. EWWWWWWWWWW. Yes, they showed this right on TV and evidently saw no problem with it. I told my husband that I bet they get all kinds of calls on that one as that practice is totally unsanitary and that sort of compost should not be used in food production. He sat there for a while and thought about it. Then he said, "You know, you are right!" A golden moment I can tell you! I'm only a casual TV watcher, but DH has mentioned that he has never seen a re-run of this episode. In theory I think that municipal composting is a really good idea. I think as more Master Gardeners become available in each community that the municipal compost heaps many become better in practice as well. You can regulate all over the place at the state level. But it is the little person, standing there trying to help out that will get the job done right. Goooo Master Gardeners!

Oh, I should mention that I only caught about 15 minutes of this episode and don't know if they warned people not to do this at home or if they told the end users of this compost to not use it in veg gardens. I hope they did!

This message was edited Jul 16, 2010 8:07 AM
Ozark
Ozark, MO
(Zone 6a)

July 16, 2010
7:45 AM

Post #7972635

I keep three big compost bins going, and I'm able to turn them with a tractor with a front end loader. Over the years I've really built up my garden soil by adding compost from these bins.

I compost grass clippings, pulled green weeds, veggie scraps from the kitchen, coffee grounds, egg shells, oak leaves, and garden material that won't carry diseases, like corn stalks. I also go fishing a lot, and I bury the leftover parts from cleaning fish in the compost. Somehow, adding fish parts seems a lot different to me from putting animals in compost. I'd never compost meat of any kind - that's disgusting and probably unhealthy. But, I've added raw fish parts for many years with good results.

You don't want to go barefoot in my vegetable garden - there are catfish spikes in the soil!
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 16, 2010
8:26 AM

Post #7972737

I love Dirty Jobs-especially Mike Rowe. I haven't seen it for a while though, I don't watch much TV
I use my own compost, lasagna gardening, but while its always been in the back of my mind, I'm now really beginning to wonder about it.
I have horses and other livestock so I use their manure and left over hay, however, I never considered it organic because I knew their grain and hay were treated with commercial herbicides and pesticides. One time I found a dead rat in a feed bag!
That being said, all the OM has greatly improved the texture of my soil.
Too much to think about.
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 16, 2010
9:00 AM

Post #7972820

Fish parts don't seem the same to me either. Maybe I'm just being prejudiced because I like to go fishing, too. Maybe deer hunter think the same to deer parts--but I don't.

Oh! 1lisac, off topic, but you just reminded me of one of my high school summer jobs. I was feeding the horses in a stable while the regular worker was on vacation. I got there at arond 5 AM. Sleepily got he wheel barrow and pushed it under the feed shoot. Pulled the stopper handle on the shoot with one eye open and nothing happened. So I gave the shoot a big shove to unclog it annnnnndddd...you guessed it. A big rat came flying out with a full flow of horse feed right behind it. Rat, still alive, went running up over my shoulder and down the aisle with three dobermans in hot pursuit! Eyes then wide open, I went out and dumped that half barrow load of feed in the manure pile and started over.

None of our horses were ever sick, of course they got the best vet care and all vac's as they were show horses. So I don't think the rats were a common feature of the feed shute. The stables were always as clean as a stable should be. That just reminded me of a rude awakening I once had as a teenager!
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 16, 2010
12:16 PM

Post #7973242

Terri-after that story I'm not sure I will ever be the same. I been finding tons of scorpins in the house lately, but the rat thing tops it all. I bet the rat was thinking "What the...? Did the dogs get the rat?
terri_emory
Alba, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 23, 2010
10:04 AM

Post #7990936

No don't recall that they did. Dobbies are quite a quick on a rat as, say, a rat terrier or a corgi IMO. But that was a long time ago, so they might have. After the actual contact with the rat, the rest is kind of a blurr. Of course we have teenager awareness issues involved there as well =~).

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