tomatoes plant wilted is this a bacteria or fungus?

les52(Z6 NJ)June 19, 2005

We have planted some heirloom plants for the first time this year.I pulled out a Brandywine because I thought it might be infected with something that would spread to the others. It was not thriving well anyway. I noticed two days ago it's neighbor plant (Prudens Purple) was wilting badly and had aphids. I sprayed it with insecticidal soap which seemed to help a little yesterday but today it looks very badly wilted and I noticed on further inspection that it has a brown patch girdling the base of the plant at the soil line. Can anyone tell me what this might be? Two other things I should add. This year I added compost from the pile in the fall which I worked into the soil in early spring. Also I have been planting tomatoes in this same spot for several years with a break about four years ago when I let the whole garden lie fallow. I also ammended the soil with dried blood for nitrogen and potash for potassium since my soil test showed my ph was fine and my phosphorus was fine. The plants all around this one seem to be fine so far though I am nervous about them. I sprayed all with the soap as a prevention against the aphids. Is this a fungus or a bacterial wilt? I have very little experience with plant diseases and would appreciate sokme expertise here!

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

brown patch girdling the base of the plant at the soil

I can think of three diseases that have a lesion just at the soil line as the first, or one of the first symptoms, accompanied by rapid wilting of foliage that stays green.

One is damping off, which can occur on plants up to maybe a foot tall. Several fungi involved here.

The second is Bacterial Wilt.

The third is Southern BLight casued by Sclerotium. I never would have thought this thrid one, but it's now been reported in NYS in the past couple of years and if here, why not in NJ.

How big are the affected plants and was wilting rapid and with no change in color?

And do you see any other symptoms such as lesions on the stems or leaves?

Carolyn

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 9:56AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

les,

I see you've posted another thread but I'm still waiting here for you to answer the questions I asked so that I could possibly help you.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 9:00AM
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les52(Z6 NJ)

Since I'm still not sure I'm doing this correctly I'm going to have to ask for help! What I did was I went to Carolyn's "My Page" I sent her an email from there. Is that continuing the thread? or is this where I should have written my info? I will rewrite it if I did it wrong again!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 12:27PM
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les52(Z6 NJ)

Carolyn,
Here is another try at posting this correctly. My tomato plant was about three feet tall last week when this first began. It did wilt suddenly with no change in color although now the lower leaves are turning yellow. There are no lesions that I can see on the plant other than this brown section on the soil line of the stem. There are small green bumps on the stem but I thought that was normal. I plant my tomatoes in raised beds of about six feet long with three plants per row. The two plants on either side of this one are doing very well. (One of them is a replacement of the Brandywine I pulled out) This one did have a lower branch which tore off somehow near the base of the plant, but I would think that would only leave a scar, not a girdling around the whole base. I was going to try sending you a picture but I don't seem to be able to figure out how to do that.
Thanks, les

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 6:18PM
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les52(Z6 NJ)

Here is an image of the plant. thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 4:11PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I tried the test for bacterial wilt which i read about online. I cut a branch of the plant off and placed it in clear water. I saw no bacteria streaming out of it and no slime inside or yellow ooze coming from it.

Les wrote the above in an e-mail to me.

Les, continuing in a thread means to answer in the same thread you started, not to e-mail folks directly. I know it can be confudsing at first, but GW is a public message forum so all questions and answers should be posted publically so anyone who wants to answer can.

So not to worry about that.

And now looking at your picture I can say it doesn['t look like Bacterial Wilt at all.

An if it were damping off the plant would be dead by now.

So that leaves us with Southern Wilt, and I'm going to add Fusarium and possibly Verticillium.

And of those three the one most likely to have a brown patch at the soil line would be Southern Wilt, but by this time you should be seeing white growth there.

Do you see any? It's the fungus that is making spores.

It seems a little early in the season to be seeing Fusarium or Verticillium, and neither of those are characterized by a brown area at the soil line.

Have you had any such problems in the past?

And how are the plants doing now?

Carolyn

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 12:32PM
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les52(Z6 NJ)

Carolyn,
I checked the plant this morning at the base. there is no fungus that I can see. I mounded soil up around the base of the plant about 6 to 8 inches (this was suggested by another gardening friend) and it is now beginning to root from the lower part of the stem above the old brown girdled area. It looks the same as the picture but is still alive (mostly). I have had what I thought was fusarium or verticullium in the past but it usually came much later after the plant had already put out fruit and then I was able to harvest a little bit of fruit from it before it died off.
Another thought: When I first put these plants out I tagged them each with a plastic yellow identification tag that wraps around the stem. I noticed that I needed to go to each plant and loosen it so it wouldn't be too tight around the growing stem. Could that have anything to do with my problem? Could I have wounded that plant at the soil line and caused this wilting? The plants on either side of this one are very healthy.
Thanks, Les

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 1:33PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I noticed that I needed to go to each plant and loosen it so it wouldn't be too tight around the growing stem. Could that have anything to do with my problem? Could I have wounded that plant at the soil line and caused this wilting? The plants on either side of this one are very healthy.

It sure could Les if the band was too tight and killed some cells in that area.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 2:10PM
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les52(Z6 NJ)

Carolyn,
So would you say that was my problem? Should I just leave the plant there and see what happens?
I guess I learned something here about not binding the stem with ID tags!!!
Thank you so much for all your patience and help. I'll keep you informed at this thread about the progress of this tomato. I hope it revives. I was really looking forward to trying this Pruden's Purple tomato. I was told they are great.
thanks, les

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 5:47PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

So would you say that was my problem? Should I just leave the plant there and see what happens?

I would say that it's possible it was/is your problem, especially since only one plant seems to be involved.

And yes, I'd leave the plant there and see if it recovers.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 6:50PM
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les52(Z6 NJ)

It has been since June 27 that I last posted about this tomato plant. Since I mounded the soil up around it, it has recovered and, though it is behind its neighbors, it is going to bear some fruit. May I ask how you label your plants safely? Since I was planting so many different kinds this year I wanted to be sure to label them carefully. Obviously the method I used was not wise. I'm sure it was the too tight yellow plastic tag that girdled and damaged the base of the plant. Any ideas? Thanks again Carolyn, Les

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 9:13PM
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