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Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

We have a hard storm Monday night, about 2' of rain. Today many of my tomatoes look like they have wilt. 35 look like cooked spinach, another 50 look like the leaves are curling up. I've never dealt with this before. I have 300 toms in this area. How do I proceed? Do I need to destroy all 300 now or just the obvious ones?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I'd try pouring some hydrogen peroxide around the root area... they are likely oxygen-deprived and drowning from all the rain. It will take a bit of H2O2, and you could probably mix it with water even though they are already saturated. Does your soil drain okay?

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

This is that area where the drainage was giving me fits earlier. I made a ditch to get most of the major runoff to head out. However, some areas still seem to be saturated. Then, some with better drainage seem to be affected, too.

I dug up and cut open the vine on one of the worst, it looks normal to me. Then again, I'm not 100% percent what normal should look like. I found info on the web that said bacterial wilt will have a brown streak.

Thanks for the H2O2 idea, worth a shot, what ratio should I use?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

When I have over-saturated seedlings or something in a pot, I do about 10% H2O2. If the ground is soaking, ie standing water, you might try 20%. Worth a shot, peroxide is fairly cheap at the dollar stores.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Thank you, Ma'am, for the quick reply! I had some peroxide on hand and was able to get it applied before the sun set. I used 4 cups peroxide per gallon of water, gave the worst looking tomatoes a little over a cup each.

A friend stop by while I was working and he said it "looks like too much water", as well.

Has spring arrived in your part of the world, Darius?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Yep, but also copious rains and chilly days so I'm still behind...

Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

Oxygen is taken up mainly via the roots and if the plants are under water I don't think any amount of peroxide is going to help.

There were several low spots in the field where I used to grow my tomatoes and after a deluge there certainly were problems.

First the plants do wilt, then they turn yellow and then brown and at that point there's no way back and they die.

But not all varieties handle water the same in terms of internal transport, and we know that b'c some varieties are much more susceptible to BER than others,. so all I try to do is to dig some drainage ditches, stand by and hope for the best.


Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Thank you, Carolyn. They looked a little better this morning. However, I started digging holes between the worst and they immediately filled with water. A few holes I could smell the anaerobic soil.

My soil is sandy loam and can't grasp why it's not draining. There is a low berm of soil on the edge of this area and I think it might be directing even more water. Two more days of rain in the weekend forecast, I'll decide after that if I'm going to dig ditches or resign to building raised beds.. earlier then planned.

Sorry to hear that, Darius. It's cold windy days that I get the most work done.lol We really do live in different gardening worlds.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

The H2O2 will help fight the anerobic microbes/soil.

Maybe dig the ditches BEFORE more rain?

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

I've walked it off, and would need at least 100' trench. I don't think I have it in me to tackle it today, it's suppose to rain tomorrow.

I'll have another cup of coffee and think about it some more. That's all I can promise ;0)

Vista, CA


If you do not know what the soil is like a couple of feet down, use a post hold digger and find out. If you can hit some coarse sand or gravel, you can dig French Drains, which in your case would be post holes filled with rock, and let the water drain off through them. If you only find tight clay or impervious soil of any kind, the French Drains will not work. But worth a try if you do not already know.


Vista, CA


Correction. I meant a Post HOLE digger.


Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Ernie, Thanks, I hadn't thought of french drains. I have some pea gravel left over from a previous chore. I had been wondering what to do with all the trenches that I have, worried I'm going twist my ankle in one of them. Ps, we call a post hole diggers, a Phd. lol

Update : These tomatoes are not getting better. I received a message on my phone this morning from a neighbor saying all her tomatoes are wilting and she doesn't know what to do. She's been growing 30 years longer then I have. If she's panicked, I know something is up.

So how do I proceed from here? I figure if I wait a fews weeks the Ag extension will know exactly what has hit the area.
What's the best way to dispose of the toms? What sanitation practices do I need to use on my tools? Any advice really.

Vista, CA


If you dig the French Drains, you can lengthen their usable life tremendously by creating a settlement basin to let the fines settle out before going in and blocking it. Cut a few inches from the top of a bucket or nursery pot and place that lip around the hole. Then dig a settlement basin to hold the water before it goes over the lip and into the hole. Success will depend entirely on the type of soil you find down there.


Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks for directing me here. Sadly whatever type of wilt you are dealing with is a fungi that lives in the soil and can wreak havoc. Your symptoms are classic. The soil can be treated but it is an expensive procedure. I am actually surprised that your neighbor lady has never encountered this in years past.

I know you are aware that some tomato cultivars are more resistant to wilt. Which ones are you finding to be affected the most?

I've found other vegetables, some flowers/herbals are also affected. It took me a while to realize that it wasn't my poor gardening skills that killed things. That is the reason I went to raised beds with new soil. So far (((knock on wood))) I have encountered no problems. Unfortunately you could not do that for the volume you are growing.

But somehow I know good will come of this... you will research and learn all about it and next year will be helping all of us. And I think you should go see the man that grows tomatoes. If I had to guess, he fumigates his soil to prevent this and is selective about the tomatoes he grows. I suspect he will gladly share what he knows.

Hang in there... Kristi

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Wow, so sad. The pathogens may always be around but they need the "right" conditions to thrive, Unfortunately, these are the right conditions.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Ernie, Thank you, I might d-mail you later in the year with some questions regarding the french drain.

Kristi, I didn't get a chance to talk with my neighbor, my husband talked with her husband, (what's that?, third hand information.lol) Said she is going to treat her area with solarization and cornmeal. Like Lisa said, my biggest problem is the 'right' conditions, too much water.

I took a hard look, yesterday. The worst of the area is only about 2,500 sq ft. so, If I plan correctly, I can avoid planting tomatoes, and their like, for the next four years in that spot.
We salvaged some lumber from an old barn that I can use to build raise beds at no cost. Fill with the soil from that berm that seems to be directing water to this area. Then my neighbors use of cornmeal got me thinking...If I fill the beds with lots of worm food, cornmeal, coffee grounds, old hay. Perhaps I can encourage the worms/grubs to dig my drainage holes.

I've planted:
Blk. Krim
gold nugget
purple calabash
super sweet 100 (VF)
yellow pear

The varieties are all distinctive enough when ripe, but I made a mess when planting and they are all mixed up in the rows. Which may turn out to be a good thing. Hopefully not all of one type are in this wet area. A PL looks to be hard hit, I'll have to look up see which variety is a PL.

Does this spread from leaf to leaf? I still need to trellis the healthy toms and I'm so scared to touch any of them.

Vista, CA

Do Dmail me if you have any questions. That will give me a chance to pay back for some of the good stuff i have learned from this forum.


Salem, NY(Zone 4b)

The thread started out with the comment that there were drenching rains and up to 2 inches of rain, which is what I was speaking to in my first post here.

Now it seems that's there's more going on with the plants than expected. Did you see any of the plants going from green to yellow to brown and starting out with wilting?

Wilt is not a disease, it's a symtom of many different kinds of diseases but most of them are systemic diseases that are in the soil, as was mentioned above. In ALL soils? Heavens no.

In TX that could range from Bacterial WIlt to Fusaium to Verticillium to Southern Blight and several more.

So unless a definite Dx is made it's hard to know what to say, at least for me. to say.

I have a really hard time understanding why ALL plants in a specific area with that many plants would all be affected by the same disease at the same time, I really do.

Could you describe what you see on those plants right now, as did they wilt when the leaves were still green, then did the foliage turn yellow, any spots on the leaves, if so please describe.

Can you think of anything environmental that could have happened, any herbicide drift, etc.

Darius, about H2O2 killing anaerboic bacteria in the soil. When studies are done looking at counting bacteria in soil samples and the same samples plated out for live colonies it turns out that we only know about 10% of the bacterial population of soil, and pretty much the same for the many fungal genera and species. And since there are strict anaerboes and what are called facultative anearobes, H2O2 will not even kill them b'c they're usually protected in the soil and when the H2O2 breaks down upon contact with the soil to H20 and O2, it's pretty useless.

Facultative anaerobes are not killed by H2O2 b'c they can either use O2 or not, that's why they're called facultative,

Yes, in another life I taught Soil Microbiology. ( wink)


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Carolyn, Thanks. It's hard for us commoners to know the details beneath all the hearsay, LOL.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Carolyn, here is a sampling from around the tomato beds. We had another 1.3" this afternoon.

Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu
Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)


Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu
Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)


Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu
Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)


Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu
Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

last pic

Thumbnail by cocoa_lulu
Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Some show what you describe, wilting, yellow leaves at bottom.
Other's, complete wilt, no other signs.
Some new growth wilting, bottom leaves curling.
Lastly, some curling without showing signs of wilting.

We don't use herbicide or anything systemic and surrounded by our own pasture. I have brought in wood chips from the city, however they are under all the other veggies as well. No signs of distress from them.

Any ideas?

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

I just thought of something else, this is all a new area of the garden.
We amended the soil with lots of lime to bring the Ph up. This was a few weeks before transplanting, they struggled at first, but then took off. Now that we getting lots of rain, could the tomatoes be going through a second state of shock from the amendments?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Cocoa ~ from your photos, I think some of those tomatoes may well recover. Hoping you are correct on this diagnosis.
But what about your neighbor lady? Have you looked at her crop and compared those plants to yours?

If it is not wilt, I'd be curious about the citys' wood chips.

edited to add ~ I've read that solarizing the soil can help with wilt but not sure what role the corn meal plays. I thought it was used as a pre emergent herbicide but need to read on using it as a fungicide.

Adding that I just realized that it is corn meal gluten that is used as the herbicide. Corn meal sounds interesting for fungicides. Hmmmm.

This message was edited May 13, 2012 5:17 PM

This message was edited May 13, 2012 5:23 PM

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Well, the most I can find is Texas A & M has rescinded their statement on corn meal as a fungicide.
I guess it still wouldn't hurt but I'm skeptical until an educational source makes it valid.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

When you say this is a new area it made me wonder if you have used any manure, hay or any thing that could have a systemic broad leaf herbicide in it? I feed my livestock bagged feed so while I have plenty of free manure I don't use it. I only use the manure from my lone donkey that lives on 18 acres down the road. He lives on untreated native grass land. There are home tests for the Systemic Herbicide.

Tomorrow, after ive had some rest, I'll explain my animal experience with a wet foaling season and anaerobic bacteria. I don't know if it's important but it might be.

Also, when did you put you plants in the ground? You may have posted that but I don't remember. I have a couple wilting but I think one is because the cat peed in the hole right after I put the plant in and had filled the hole with water but before I back filled it. LOL. I have moved the plant and it looks better. The other, I have no idea, but it might have been injured during a rain/hail storm. Like you I'm not sure what kind it is but I'm going to stick another one in the same place and see what happens.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY every one. Going out to eat has made me very tired. : )

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Kristi, I've haven't been to the neighbors. I played phone tag with her over the weekend, then I think we both gave up trying to reach each other. I'll try again.

I never had luck with corn meal spray used as a black spot preventative on roses. However, the earth worms were enthusiastic over them when placed on the soil. I don't know if I'm over simplifying the matter, but where I have lots of earthworms, soil/pathogen problems seem minimal.

Lisa, yes, please. If you get the time I would love to hear about your experience with anaerobic soil.

The hay, manure and compost I've used is from a few pet dairy cows. They're pastured and receive a small amount of supplemental feed. Last year was so hard, we ran out of our own hay. Only one cow did I keep in milk, supplemented. The hay we purchased was not pristine or weedless. I just needed to keep them ruminating during the drought, not a high quality milk producing diet. So, long story short, It's not impossible, but highly unlikely that the compost is the problem.
As well, I ran out of compost, I never have enough.lol
Four out of eight rows received compost, I can't see any difference between them.

Today, I'm going to take a head count and see how many are effected.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)


where I have lots of earthworms, soil/pathogen problems seem minimal.

This has been my experience, too. I think whatever goes through earthworms comes out sterilized in some way. I've never read this, just my own experience.

In my garden, I can't dig anywhere without disturbing several earthworms. LOVE those hermaphrodites!


Snellville, GA(Zone 7b)

It's funny, my one tomato plant that I had re-potted in my previous year's soil mixed along with coir and MG soiless mix did the same after a bout of rain and cool temps. But oddly after a couple days I noticed a new seedling springing up in the same pot. Must have come from the year before seed. So if this droopy one doesn't straighten up I'll pull it out and letting the new seedling take over. "Hope springs eternal".

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Honeybee, I read that last night and got too burry eyed to reply. That was interesting, I've always heard earth worms break down minerals. Never realizing it was as simple as them having a crop and gizzard. Very cool!

I feel better about the field tomatoes, I've taken a head count. 39 are dead, 25 look ill. The others are looking good or least o.k. and will produce (if the nights ever warm up!lol) I'll keep counting each week to see if more are effected.

Riceke, I love those kind of happy accidents. I sometimes will have two seedling when I thought I was so careful to place only one seed. They were probably stuck together, but It makes me wonder.
Is it possible for a seed to be a twin, as in, two embryos within one seed capsule? Carolyn, you there?

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