tobacco tea and Tomato plants?

gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)April 3, 2006

Does anyone use tobacco tea on thier tomato plants? I understand that tomatoes and tobacco don't go together but then I heard someone say that they spray thier plants without a problem.

I would like to hear what people on this forum have to say about it before I spray my tomatoes with it.


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Organic gardeners stopped using tobacco sprays many years ago when tobacco mozaic, a disease that will also infect tomatoes, was fairly prevelant. It is not today, but for all the reasons that tobacco is harmful to you you should not use it as a spray in your garden. The tobacco sprays are a very broad spectrum poison and these do not have a place in the organic garden.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 7:00AM
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Kimmsr is right about tobacco.

Why do you want to spray your tomatoes with tobacco? Do you have a pest, disease problem?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 8:01AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

No Kimmsr is not correct. TMV was almost wipped out over 40 years ago. RE a retired Dir of Plant Pathology NCSU in the heart of tobacco country.. In 1997 TMV was 0.237% in cig tobacco, 0% in pipe, cigar, chewing tobacco


I smoked and handled tomato and pepper plants for over 50 years, I used the tobacco T formula since the mid 80's

Go over to the tomato forum as Dr Male how much TMV she sees in tomatoes.

Until Mike McGrath took over Organic Gardening tobacco was acceptable. RE 1997 Rodale press "The Color Handbook of Garden Insects" By Anna Carr, pg 170 Using tobacco dust or tobacco tea to control white flies.

For KimmSR

Find the LD 50 of any over the counter tobacco,

DO NOT give me LD 55 of Nicotine Sulfate of a manufatured, no longer available to most homegrowers

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 8:13PM
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Kimmsr is indeed incorrect.

Here is a link that might be useful: Info from the FAO:

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 9:11PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)



Tobacco juice + lemon scented dishsoap is one of the best smelling pesticides you'll ever use.

Also about the cheapest, I still have over 1/2 package of tobacco (about $1.50) purchased in mid 80's, the same gal of concentrate mixed Y2K.

I still have birds, butterflies, dragonflies and earthworms in my garden.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 10:03PM
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Nicotine is one of the most toxic of natural pesticides, particularly to mammals, and also is a broad spectrum insecticide, meaning it will affect both beneficial insects as well as those you wish to control. It acts in the same manner as Diazinon - as an organophosphate - affecting neurological activity or essentially scrambling your brain. Diazinon was removed from the marketplace because of this property but the tobacco lobby has a lot of money and clout and I doubt we'll see any changes in the availability of tobacco or the uses of nicotine sulfate (the most common presentation of this pesticide) in our lifetimes. There are so many other, less toxic controls to consider given the dangers of messing around with this highly poisonous substance.

And despite Byron's ill-informed comments to the contrary, TMV is STILL an issue in this country, as recently as 2003 substantially reducing yields in tobacco crops, and is NOT recommended for use around tomatoes or any other members of the Solanaceae.

Here is a link that might be useful: toxic organic pesticides

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 10:31PM
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Nicotine sulfate is not the same as tobacco tea. Your link does not address tobacco tea.

Here is some additional info:

"Nicotine is used in greenhouses and gardens to control soft-bodied sucking pests such as aphids, thrips, and mites. Because they can be toxic to humans, nicotine teas are not recommended as a way to control garden or household pests.

The tobacco companies probably wouldn't want this to be widely known, but the active ingredient from the tobacco spray that poisoned the pests was nicotine, a broad-spectrum poison that will kill any insect in its path. Although you can make your own tobacco spray, it is no longer recommended for use on food plants. There are other botanical (plant-derived) insecticides available on the market that are much safer when used as directed; pyrethrum and neem are two examples. These are also broad-spectrum, but when you use them properly and only when truly needed, you can have less impact on non-target and beneficial species. Just recently, cottonseed oil has been formulated for use as a suffocating oil spray for use against scale, mealybugs, and other pests."

One of the top three insecticides in the 1880s, nicotine in several forms is still widely used. Nicotine comes from the tobacco plant and is extremely toxic to insects. The great advantage of home-made nicotine tea is that it is very short ived, retaining its toxicity for only a few hours after spraying. It is relatively nonhazardous to bees and lady beetles because of its short persistence.
Protection Offered: Nicotine is effective against ground and soil pests, especially root aphids and fungus gnats, and on many leaf-chewing insects, such as aphids, immature scales, leafhoppers, thrips, leafminers, pear psylla, and asparagus beetle larvae."

Here is a link that might be useful: Link for info quoted above

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 6:53AM
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For all the reasons that nicotine is bad for humans use of nicotine sprays in an organc garden has not been acceptable since the 1970's.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 7:21AM
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If I'm in err, I prefer to err on the side of my extension office in regards to tmv.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 10:06AM
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Nicotine sulfate may not be used for organic crop production in the U.S. See section 205.602

Here is a link that might be useful: ams

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 10:12AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

BUT Humans smoke or chew tobacco for 10 to 50 years before they develop cancer.

The amount of nicotine in a spray is less than 1/100,000 of that used by a human ONE time.

Gardengal, Nicotine sulfate was banned long before diazinon. It's now restricted use for registered Pesticde applicators only, and only in some states..

Funny Rotenone has a LD 50 of 62, not that much different than Nicotine sulfate LD 50 of 55. Rotenone can poison you by breathing the dust.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 10:29AM
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Rotenone is also no longer an acceptable poison to use in an organic garden. Has not been since the 1980's.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 11:54AM
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Nicotine sulfate is NOT the same as tobacco tea.

Refer to the links I posted above.

Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. They are NOT the same.

For all the reasons that nicotine is bad for humans use of nicotine sprays in an organc garden has not been acceptable since the 1970's.

Rotenone is also no longer an acceptable poison to use in an organic garden. Has not been since the 1980's.

It really amazes me when you make statements like these.

Especially when it is so very easy to find that the statement is totally incorrect.

Here is a source for you with information from the year 2000 which completely refutes what you said about rotenone.

Do you just make this stuff up off the top of your head or what?


    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 12:55PM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

Well, this has definitely been informative. I really appreciate all of the responses.

Maybe I should be a little more specific about what I am using.

My grandfather always put plain chewing tobacco in a jug of water and left it to sit in the sun. Sometimes he added garlic. That was about the only form of pest control that he used. He has passed on now though and I don't remember whether or not he used it on his tomatoes. I know that he did spray the fruit trees with it regularly.

So when I say 'tobacco tea' I am referring to chewing tobacco steeped in water.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 9:13PM
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Some people certainly seem to get their dander up when someone refutes their favorite myth. :-)
Real organic gardeners found years ago that sprays made with any Nicotine is far more hazardous than beneficial, both to insects killing far more beneficial insects than bad ones as well as hazardous to human health, and real organic gardeners will not use Nicotine sprays for that reason.
Real organic gardeners know that Rotenone is far more hazarous to the environment than many other much less toxic products and will not use Rotenone because it kills far more beneficial things, toads as well as insects, fish, snakes, etc.
Sabadila and pyrethrins may be on the list next.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 7:13AM
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Actually if you have any proof or documentation to support what you are saying then please present it.

This is not the first time you have made statements off the cuff and then had zero to back up your claims.

If it is your "opinion" that tobacco tea and rotenone are too dangerous for your garden then state it as your "opinion." Don't come running in here making claims that you cannot back up with any sort of fact.

Seems that the only myths being refuted here are the ones you have presented.

Of course if you want to present some sort of support for your position, there's still time.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 7:24AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


Yes Thats what I am talking about, but it has been noted that you can dilute this mix, You can use a 1/3 oz of chewing tobacco steeped in a gal jug, Then use 1 tbsp of this in 1 gal of water, Add 1 tbsp of old style dishsoap, or baby or horse shampoo.

Contrary to Kimmsrr, it doesn't kill beneficals. I have used this for over 20 years. There are less beneficals around because there is less food for them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dragons

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 11:34AM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

Thank you all for your input.

I especially enjoyed the informative links provided.

Byron, I thank you for sharing your pics and recipe.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 10:51PM
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This from the "Wisegeek" website, but probably meaningless to those that hold the viewpoint that Nicotine is not hazardous. "Nicotine in high doses acts as an effective nerve poison and can have a number of potentially harmful side effects. It is extremely physically addicting, though estimates on the exact degree of addiction range wildly from very low levels to those rivaling that of heroine or cocaine.

If taken in large doses - larger than almost anyone is likely to achieve through smoking - it may induce severe nausea or vomiting. In small doses it may increase blood pressure, which can prove harmful, or in very rare cases, fatal to those with dangerous heart conditions.

A number of recent studies have strongly linked nicotine itself to various cancers. This means that in addition to the cancer risks posed by tar through smoking, nicotine itself increases your chances of developing cancer. It also means that even those on nicotine patches and gums are raising their likelihood of getting cancer. This link is thought to be caused by a property of nicotine which retards your body's ability to slough off damaged cells, giving cancerous cells more time to develop.

According to Poison/Toxicology by Jay Arena, the lethal dosage of nicotine for a 150 pound (68kg) male is 60mg. This is less than both arsenic and strychnine. American cigarettes contain approximately 9mg of nicotine each (compare with 19mg in a New Zealand cigarette), but after burning, only about 1mg enters the body over the course of smoking an entire cigarette. While this results in amounts well below the lethal dosage, over time this poison can weaken the immune system and cause fatigue and other minor maladies.

Much more nicotine enters the body through chewing tobacco and many nicotine patches/gums than through smoking cigarettes; nicotine levels should be monitored when using these methods of disbursement. While gums and patches have maximum recommended doses, chewers of tobacco should be aware of how much nicotine they are sending directly to their blood stream. An average pinch of chew held in the cheek for half an hour provides as much nicotine as smoking three or four cigarettes.

Nicotine is also a very potent insecticide, used as a natural alternative to chemical pest control substances. In most marketed forms it contains 40% pure nicotine sulfate, mixed with water and sprayed on to crops. When used in warm weather it provides optimal results, breaking down quickly to non-toxic levels and allowing for wide-spread use on food crops, even very close to harvest."

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 7:58AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


From that you will note that the commercial prep is 40% Nicotine, as a concentrate.

If we assume, the homemade mix is the equivalent of 3 cigs or 3 mg diluted in 128 oz of water, for the concentrate, and then the application rate is 1/2 oz per gal. of the concentrate.

How do the two compare???

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 12:11PM
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So the Wisegeek reference you provide gives us all this info on the effects/hazards of nicotine when smoked or chewed.

Got that part and don't disagree with it. I never claimed that smoking or chewing it was harmless.

Then, at the end, your reference tells us how effective nicotine can be when sprayed on the garden.

The compound (nicotine sulfate) that your reference is touting is much, much stronger than the tobacco tea which prompted this thread to begin with.

I'm really confused now.

You railed against the use of tobacco tea but then present a reference which supports the use of nicotine sulfate which is much, much stronger and more poisonous?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 10:55PM
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I have grown perennial tobacco in my greenhouse for 8 years. I have used a tea made from it to sucessfully control insect pests in my greenhouse. I occassionally get an infestation of whitelies. I ignore them. They congregate on my tobacco plant and then just die off on their own. Recently a friend warned me that he had heard that using tobacco tea could cause cancer. I appreciated reading the comments posted here and would like to know even more about the safety and potential hazzards of using tobacco tea.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 10:23PM
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thx for the postings and discussion albeit a while ago.
Glad to hear there's no diff on which plants to use the tea on.
Let's go get those suckers...

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 8:22PM
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The Organic Materials Review Institute people (OMRI) not only frown on the use of any tobacco products in the organic farm/garden they outright state it is unacceptable for anyone seeking organci certification. Even before OMRI many of the state organic organicizations banned the use of any tobacco products.
Since there are other, less toxic and more effective, materials to use tobacco products should not be a part of an organic gardeners arsenal today.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 7:08AM
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Great discussion! I myself am a hydro tom farmer in fla for some 30 odd years. And for the first time I have started tobacco plants about 50 of them on the property for testing porpouses. I am fearful of tmv for I dont want to ruin my production crop of tomatoes so I have isolated them in a dif house. Is this test worth tmy curiosity im not sure yet but in late aug I will plant my tomatoes and decide on weather or not to keep the tobacco. Any advise on growinv the two together or discussing over tea wld be greatly appreciated

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 10:09PM
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