Tomato Stem Growths

silent_galaxyAugust 6, 2014

I decided to till up our old garden for the first time in years and planted a few different things in it. I planted three different variety's of tomatoes that are all showing a similar problem. Beefsteak, 4th of July Hybrid, and Gardener's Delight are the three I planted.

The problem is that the stems of the plants are huge (Nearly 2 inches across) and showing brown area, extra random growth, and primordia (roots are probably from humidity). See pictures

Some other problems include: Major Leaf Curl, Cat Facing, and BER (the tomatoes on ground are were all showing signs of BER).

I took a plant to some local nursery shops in town here and neither place could come up with a solid answer. They told me that the stems of the plants are growing to fast and causing the outside layer of cells to burst and brown over. The cells inside the stem were all fine (I thought it was pith necrosis), no fungus or bugs were to be found.

I used a scotts 10-10-10 slow release fertilizer, and bone meal when I planted. Is this problem from to much fertilizer?

I assumed the leaf curl was due to the wet spring we had, and the BER was due to me not watering because of the leaf curl problems. Now that I have a consistent watering schedule the BER problems seem to be going away but the leaf curl is getting worse.

I tried a copper fungicide on one plant just to see if it would help with the stem browning but it had no effect.

I can't seem to find any help online and am completely lost on what to do. I have more pictures but it seems I can only add one.

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Here is 1 more pic that shows the stem growths.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 8:52PM
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Hi if you don't get an answer on this forum bump it to the tomato forum. You'll get much more feedback.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 8:06AM
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High humidity (or too much water) along with too much nitrogen can be responsible for both the leaf curl and the large amount of adventitious roots.

If you're fertilizing, scale back, especially on the nitrogen rich fertilizers. If the tomatoes are in the ground they really only need to be fertilized a couple of times each year. In many cases, in-ground tomatoes don't need to be fertilized at all unless a soil test reveals deficiencies. If you think you have a nutrient deficiency in the soil, get a soil test to be sure. It's worth the investment.

Container grown tomatoes in a soil-less mix do need to be fertilized every week or two with very diluted fertilizer (the same ratio as for indoor/house plants).

Obviously, if you're overwatering, stop it. :-)

Seriously, stick your finger in the dirt and, if it's moist a few inches down, it doesn't need watering. Don't just go by the appearance of the soil on top. It's what is going on below that counts.

Of course, if the overwatering is caused by rain there's not much you can do about it. Mulch might help a bit. Make sure there is good drainage where you plant. Tomatoes don't like to sit in soggy, swampy places. Sunshine would help more, but there's not much you can do about that either.

The browning could be caused by mechanical bruising, such as rubbing against supports, other stems, or previous gnawing by critters. However, I suspect it is caused by mechanical damage from the eruption of all of those roots, where it splits the stem. This will be ok when the underlying causes get corrected.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 8:53AM
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