curling/browning tomato leaves

jdmcbrAugust 18, 2012

I've been looking through posts here on tomato diseases with pictures, but I haven't felt confident in establishing what the problem I have is.

I live in the Bay Area in California, zone 9 according to the zip code finder on this website (though climate changes so quickly here that that might be off by a zone). I have four tomatoes planted in the ground, with okay seeming soil that I amended with Bumper Crop by Master Nursery. The full path is probably 25 square feet or so, and I used two bags. The plants all get full sun. I only applied fertilizer once, right after I put them in the ground. It was a 9-6-3, which someone later told me was not ideal for tomatoes, so I have not used it again, but they seemed very happy at the time. They are four different heirloom varieties that are all originally eastern European. The pictured tomato is a Black Prince, I believe. They wound up way overcrowded. The main stalk on each of the four plants is ~7 feet.

Through mid-July, the plants were extremely happy. I was watering deeply once a week, or maybe a little less often. They were growing very rapidly, producing lots of flowers, and the first tomatoes were just starting to ripen. I had to go away for ten days though, so I asked a friend to water them once while I was gone. She did, but thought they looked a little wilty when she watered, and the weather was a little warmer, reaching maybe 80 degrees most days. So she came back and watered the next day. And then the following three days. It sounds like she may have given them a month or more of water in a little under a week.

When I got back, the tomatoes had a variety of problems. Some branches looked very brown and curly, some looked limp but still green, and others were yellowed. A lot of the very small branches were still attached to the stalks, but were broken. I removed the least healthy looking parts of the plant, re-staked, and waited a week and a half or so before watering again, and have since been on a roughly once a week schedule. The tomatoes initially seemed to have some healthy new growth, but the picture I posted shows what is happening to the new growth. The very new growth looks green and health, but farther along on the branch turns brown, and the leaves begin to curl. The blossoms also turn brown, before falling off.

The stalks at the base have lots of bumps, which I saw in another posts is an attempt to remove excess moisture from the roots. Is what is going on elsewhere on the plants also a symptom of still being over-watered? The soil feels pretty dry now, at least down 6-8". Could there be another issue?

I chose one picture that looks the most representative, but I can post more if that would help. Thank you very much for any help that you can provide.

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Looks like late tomato blight. See my posting on one of the other tomato forums.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:25PM
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Looks like late tomato blight. See my posting on one of the other tomato forums.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:27PM
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Hm, I'm not sure which posting you are talking about, but I looked for some other images of late tomato blight, and I am not sure if that is what is affecting my plants. At the very least, when my leaves started to have this problem, the growing tomatoes that were at the time at least cherry tomato sized continued to grow and ripen normally. Even this week, I've been getting great tomatoes. It is just that the new flowers the plants produce all brown in the way I described.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 1:59AM
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Do your leaves have some purple on the edges? Just curious, and did the leaves start out curling, or any yellowing spots?? Does it happen to the bottom of plant, upper or?? Could be both but without seeing any leafspot, I can't say. You said it got a lot of watering! DARN THAT GARDEN SITTER, same thing happend to me, except, they didn't turn off the water, and the soaker hose stayed on for 3 days. MY BILL WAS HUGE! If the leafs curl upwards and tend to get kind of thickened and leathery,could be physiological leaf roll. It is a protective mechanism the plant has under stress, e.g. from cool rainy weather, severe pruning, going back and forth between very wet and very dry.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 5:31PM
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Hi lizzy,
No, no purple, or yellow spots, and nothing quite like in the pdf you linked to. Thank you for the suggestion though.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 10:44PM
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