Is this Wilt?

Rocky Point, NC

I'm a long time gardner and I have never had wilt, but I think I have it now?

We have had very unusual weather this year because of cold nights (for this area) and more rain than normal. I planted these as usual, early April, and had to cover to protect from 38 to 48 degree fahenheit nights, but most of the tomatoes made it thru ok. Then we had rain, on average, every 3 days. Lots of rain. I watered 1 time in April and 1 time in May. I raise my plants from seeds, so I know this didn't come from a nursery. I have pulled 5 plants now because they started looking like this.

Is this Wilt? If so, what type? Any suggestions? Research doesn't give me much info or hope.

Thanks!

Thumbnail by jinxi Thumbnail by jinxi
Dahlonega, GA

I Cannot believe no one has addressed these pictures with an opinion on your plight .

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

jinxi - I don't have a definite answer for you, sorry. I'm used to having a touch of fungus diseases on my tomatoes, Septoria leaf spot and such, and the treatment for those is to remove the lower affected branches, keep the remaining leaves of the plants sprayed with Daconil, and mulch the ground around the plants to prevent soil spash-up. However, those symptoms always start on the lower branches of the plants, and the best I can tell from your photos whatever your plants have is in the upper branches and main body of the plants.

I THINK that means your plants have a bacterial disease. I'm not familiar with those, but I know it's not good - not a bit good. Hopefully, someone here who knows more about those diseases with jump in and help.

A SLIGHT possibility, and I don't think this is the most likely case, is that your plants have stem borers. I had a lot of trouble with stem borers in my tomatoes a few years ago, and found that problem is so uncommon that most folks here, including Carolyn, have never experienced them (a good thing). Stem borers are caused by a moth that lays eggs on grass or weeds near your garden, and about this time of year the eggs hatch and 3/4-inch long borers (caterpillars) crawl as much as 15-20 feet to find a host plant such as a tomato. Then the critter bores into the main stem or a side branch and tunnels and feeds its' way toward the base of the plant. The symptoms are that you'll find a major branch or the whole of a healthy plant suddenly wilted - just all at once, with no warning. Then upon inspection there'll be a 1/8" diameter entry hole in the branch or stem, and if you split that branch open you'll find the worm. Is that the case with your plants - SUDDEN wilting of a major branch or the whole plant for no apparent reason?

I just mention stem borers as a possibility - I'm really afraid you have a bacterial disease, and others here can give you information on those.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

To see if its bacterial cut of a branch and place it in a clear glass with water. If you see a white stream coming from the cut end its bacterial. I dont know what to do about it but that will give you an idea of what your dealing with.

Rocky Point, NC

Thanks digger ;)

Ozark
Thanks! I'll check the stems of the 2 plants I pulled for borers. The top 1/3 of the plants started looking "puny" with a slight darkening of the leaves and "collasped" almost overnight. I lay a thick mulch of wheat straw and grass clippings. I don't like gardening for the weeds to take over!

1lisac
Thanks! Will this water 'trick' work on plants that have been pulled up for a couple of days? I pulled them and bagged them for burning. Didn't want this going to the landfill to end up back in the environment.

jinxi

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

jinxi - I should have been talking about "stalk borers" instead of "stem borers" - I get that mixed up and used the wrong term.

Here's a short article about various causes of tomato plants wilting, including stalk borers.

http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1992/7-22-1992/tomato.html

Rocky Point, NC

Thanks, Ozark!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I don't know if it will work if the plants have been pulled it couldn't hurt.

Austin, TX

Quote from 1lisac :
To see if its bacterial cut of a branch and place it in a clear glass with water. If you see a white stream coming from the cut end its bacterial. I dont know what to do about it but that will give you an idea of what your dealing with.


What is the science behind this? Thanks!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I have no idea I've just read that is how to check. Lol

FU, United States(Zone 9b)

It kind of looks like fertilizer burn. Do you add fertilizer to them often? Or maybe leaf-burn from too many hours of hot sun. Just not sure, maybe cut back on how strong of a fertilizer you use and how often.

Also, make sure no "weed-killer" sprays are being sprayed near those tomatoes.

Rocky Point, NC

@ LoveForests,

I fertilize lightly, every 3 weeks, with fish emulsion. There is an open field beside my garden where nothing is planted or sprayed nor teated with anything (not even for fire ants!). This 'muck' started after unseasonably cool nights and all the rain. This area went from a 6" deficit to a 3" deficit for rain, in 1 month, which is unusual too.

Thanks!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

How wet is the ground staying- leaves can reflect the condition of the roots, and if roots are too wet and not draining- you have straw down and that retains moisture and restricts circulation and provides shelter for pests- you'll get yellowing. Verry good year this is for the bugs to go crazy too, have you rotated from a diff spot to this one? Was there moles burrowing in to expose the roots to air? I REALLY don't know much abt the bacterial sides of damages myself, are you planting a different variety of tomato, or did they all react that way? I think our experts are hiding...

Rocky Point, NC

@kittriana,

I have well draining soil (sandy loam), which is the main reason I mulch. The bugs are crazy this year, as we had a very mild winter and very early spring. Then we had unseaonably cold nights, after I planted in April, with way more rain than normal. I planted a couple new varieties, but my tried and true varieties are suffering too. As for moles, I have a found evidence in my front yard, but none on the back 2 acres where the garden is. I've had to remove 6 more plants. These I'm taking to the Ag Ext agent, because, as you wrote, the experts seem to be hiding, or way too busy to help....
One thing that seems to be the beginnings of this, the very top leaves are tending to a coppery color before the dying begins, and I can't find reference to this anywhere.....

Thanks!

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Rocky Point, know where it is, the bacterial ck works because the bacteria is a milky liquid in the plant and that makes it visible. the roots are picking something up, hope the straw didn't bring anything in and infect the ground- take a sample of your mulch too, and even the soil, just in case. Good luck.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

riceke on a lower entry found this place, I saved it myself, http://www.extension.instate.edu/publications/pm1266.pdf did u see it?

Rocky Point, NC

no, didn't see it....Thanks and Thanks! :)

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Im not sure if the experts are hiding. Maybe just stumped. Please let us know what the ag agent says. I do know one of the quickest ways to kill a plant is too over water it. Not only does too much water bring out different pathogens it also suffocates the plants. But if you get too much rain what can you do?

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