Please help ID these tomato diseases!

Ryant1110April 6, 2011

Hello everyone, my name is Ryan and I recently became interested in growing vegetables over the last year. I was browsing around an heirloom tomato site ( and within an hour my shopping cart was overflowing with seed packets that I wanted to try. I understand that heirlooms are not very disease resistant but it appears that where I live, growing them may simply be impossible. To grow disease resistant hybrids does not really appeal to me, but at this point I do not know what else to do.

Other information that may be helpful:

I have found black winged aphids on my plants occasionally, but thanks to spinosad, they are usually found dead still on the plant.

I understand that if they are the vector causing the problems than spinosad wont kill them before they've infected the plant. All signs seem to be pointing towards bad news for me.

I have also found flea beetle holes occasionally on some of the leaves. I also know an occasional leaf hopper may come along, but not too often.

Please ask anything else that may help

Here is a link that might be useful: PHOTOS

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I should also point out that the one plant is a bush blue bean. It appears to have suffered the same curling new growth. I strongly suspect a virus.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 5:53PM
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Hi Ryan,

Laughing at the seed thing. That's how I got started. "Just one more" was my motto. Next thing you know I wanted to try everything; they all sounded so good. :-)

Before we start thinking about diseases, it would help to know what kind of soil you're using and how you are fertilizing the plants.

The biggest thing is not to overwater tomato plants. That's the most common mistake everyone makes. Let them dry out between watering. Before you water, stick your finger down into the soil. If it's still feels a couple of inches down, don't water, even if it feels dry at the top of the pot.

Tomatoes hate soggy soil and they hate to have soggy roots, so make sure your containers are draining well, that they aren't sitting in water, and that you don't use the hose or watering can too often.

Are you planning to grow the plants in containers or are you eventually going to move them into the ground somewhere? If you're going to keep them in containers you will need much larger containers eventually. At least 5 gallon containers. For best results I would use 10 or 15 gallon containers. Anything smaller will reduce yield and cause the plants to get root bound.

Fertilizing: they will need to be fertilized regularly if you're growing in containers. Most potting soils have very few to no nutrients. Get an all purpose fertilizer that has immediately-available nutrients, such as a water soluble one like Miracle Gro or Peters or whatever one you like. Try to keep the NPK numbers close to equal, so use 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 or 20-20-20. You can go lower on the first number if you like so, for example, 5-10-10 or 5-10-7 would be fine.

Anyhow, dilute according to package directions for indoor plant feedings. Using the formula for outdoor plants will be too strong for potted/container plants and will cause leaf burn and the plants will look sickly. Feed every couple of weeks or so. No more than that is necessary.

Keep the herbicides away. Roundup and/or 2,4-D that is accidentally sprayed on the plants will make them sick and likely kill them eventually. 2,4-D that is in soil or manure can also do damage to them. The plants will look virused, with spindly, twisted, distorted leaves.

You have pests and diseases that we don't get see up here, so I would not be acquainted with all of them. Someone else can chime in. Still, I would risk those pests and diseases to live where you are, especially in the winter. :-)

The leaves on your plants look a little rugose (puckered) and curled. That could be from overwatering or underfeeding or cold weather (not a problem for you right now, lol), sometimes insects like mites will cause that kind of damage.

I don't think we need to be thinking about diseases right now. If we had to, I'd suspect a virus type of disease because the foliage looks pretty clean. Again, at this point I'd suspect something environmental such as too much water.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 6:58PM
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I use a conifer bark / manure / and perlite mix. It appears to be a very fast moving soil, so I do not believe they stay saturated for any length of time.

Due to sandy soils where I live, I have decided to pretty much container garden exclusively. I fully intended on stepping these plants up into a bigger pot, but now only keeping them long enough for a diagnosis.

I add about half dose of miracle grow for vegetables and for this batch, thats been about it.

My plants will tend to wilt in the mid day sun from about 1-4pm so I usually give them a few seconds of hose water every other morning before I leave for work.

I do understand that overwatering is bad, but I just figured the wilting was worse. I have assumed the wilt is just from the sun and nothing like fusarium or vert. The plants perk right up once they get cooled down.

My best guess is that I am dealing with either cucumber/tomato mosaic, pseudo-curly top. Ofcourse, thats just what I've concluded from internet photos. Im hoping other people can offer up their opinions.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 10:54PM
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Yes, you do have much different environment than I, so it makes sense that you would have to water more frequently. Once you get to a point where the containers are larger and you have a greater volume of soil, you might be able to reduce the watering.

If your plants have CMV they are not necessarily lost and are capable of recovering. I've only seen CMV-like symptoms on one plant here, and the plant did manage to recover and go on to look healthy and produce fruit. But if you don't want to waste time on a possibly virused plant, that's understandable. And, viruses other than CMV are not so forgiving.

Right now I'd watch and wait, but my growing season is much shorter so strategies change accordingly. :-)

Good luck. I hope you eventually get to try out all those varieties. :-)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 6:27AM
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Any other thoughts?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 10:46PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

When was the herbicide used?

The yellowing at the base of the leaves is a characteristic of glyphosate damage. That's the active ingredient in Roundup and more.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 8:53PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Also see evidence of 2,4-D, another herbicide. -- the crinkled leaves.

If you didn't use any weed killer, perhaps it wafted through your fence.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 8:56PM
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