Upper leaves turning white-yellow from center

edfeingold(5b-6a)July 8, 2009

I have 6 giant Roma tomato plants, planted early June, now 6-7 feet tall with green fruit emerging. I applied a newspaper/straw mulch covering three weeks ago to stop a weed problem. Earlier this week, the upper leaflets of one branch of the largest tomato plant started turning white then yellow from the center (stem) near the yougnest leaves. The discoloration then extended to the edge of the leaf before the leaves die.

this has afflicted the top of only one shoot of the tomato plant. I clipped it off and noticed some aphids and small red bugs under the leaves.

So here's my question. Is this likely to be some incurable Curly Top virus, aphid damage or just nitrogen dificiency due to the new newspaper mulch just starting to break down. HELP! I don't want to lose my best plant(s).


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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

My first thought would be drift from a weed killer containing glyphosate. (The most commonly used product of that kind is Roundup.)

I can be more certain if you post an image.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 2:27PM
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Yup. I have used both Roundup and 2,4-d based lawn herbacide recently. The latter was sprayed about 15 feet from the crop. After some research, I found pics that look exactly like the damage I have. 2,4-d is probably the culprit. Aparently 2,d-4 (ester) based herbacides can take on a gaseous form after application in hot weather which is probably what spread to the tomatoes. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. Lesson learned, keep away from cheap spray-on lawn herbcides and certainly don't use them mid-season.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 5:17AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

You wrote: "2,4-d is probably the culprit."

Not so. 2,4-D makes cells grow excessively. See this image from Cornell

Your description matches glyphosate damage. See this image from Clemson University

You also wrote: "Lesson learned, keep away from cheap spray-on lawn herbcides ..."

Not necessarily so. Any herbicide can drift on the breeze or even just because of the turbulence from the spray. (A breeze is anything that makes the leaves rustle, even the slightest bit.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Clemson image glyphosate damage

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 3:34AM
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...even the slightest whiff of RoundUp, near tomato plants will cause that.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 9:58AM
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I just noticed the same problem on my young tomato transplants. Thanks for the photo. In +30 years of organic gardening I'd never seen the symptoms, so was stumped on what the problem was. Some of the younger plants have already died.
A few weeks ago I sprayed the perimeter of the yard (on a still day, no less!) with Roundup to kill poison ivy.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:21AM
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