Tomato Anthracnose & flea beetles

Hoschton(7-8 NE GA)February 15, 2012

I garden northeast of Atlanta, GA. One of my tomato gardens was ruined by flea beetles last year and the ensuing anthracnose epidemic. I don't want it to happen again this year. I've read that the flea beetles can lead to anthracnose---true?

I plan to put floating row cover over the young plants I put out. But how long do I need to keep it in place? and how do I "install" it? Apparently it needs to be supported by hoops---any creative way to make the hoops so I don't have to buy them? I only grow about a dozen plants so maybe I can just wrap the cages with the material?

I mulch with newspaper to keep soil-borne spores from splashing on the plants.

I also need to do a better job of rotating where I plant tomatoes. Any other recommendations?

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Flea beetles have been a problem in my area for years. And they can lead to all kinds of garden distress.

Here is a way to thin them down to a manageable level without loading your whole garden up with spray chemicals. They absolutely love eggplant. Eggplant is to flea beetles as Lobster, King Crab, or Porterhouse Steak is to people(Take your choice, by the way).

So what you do is buy the poor flea beetles a few eggplants and place these strategically around the garden. I find the flea beetles like to collect on them en masse several times a day. That's when I nail the eggplants with Raid's marvelous "Hornet and Wasp Killer". It works just as well on flea beetles.

I do not particularly like eggplant so it's no problem for me to pull and burn the sacrificial plants in the fall-fruit
and all.

If you do this for several years in a row neither you nor any of your neighbors need worry much about flea beetles
for several more years. Heh, heh, heh!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 7:18AM
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Nasturtiums are also a good 'trap crop' for flea beetles. When they get covered in FBs just pop a trash bag(quickly)over the whole plant, pull it up and tie it into the bag and dispose of it(and the FBs).

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:39AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I'm curious as to the source of the claim that flea beetles cause or even directly correlate to the development of anthracnose. Anthracnose is a common fungal disease and can attack most any plant or tree, with or without any insect injury, when given the right conditions.

In other words, I would suspect coincidence. They are two different issues that just happened to your plants.

Flea beetles are well documented as a minimal threat to a healthy, established tomato plant. This is not to say you can't develop a bad infestation or that the infestation, if it develops, shouldn't be treated. It should.

But poor growing conditions provided, poor garden hygiene, using infected seeds and poor quality purchased plants, no mulching, poor plant health, and unusually wet weather all have much stronger correlations to the development of anthracnose than flea beetles do.

So all those other factors need to be evaluated carefully rather than focusing on the flea beetles.

Scroll down to page 3 of the article linked below. It may be of help to you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Pathology in Tomato Diseases

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Hoschton(7-8 NE GA)

Dave, I've read that the flea beetles injure the plant, leaving it open to infection by the fungus (and other things), so I guess one isn't necessarily the consequence of the other. I want to treat for both however.
I don't know if I want to plant a 'host' plant for the flea beetles! It used to be recommended hereabouts that people hang out traps to attract Japanese beetles, then they would leave your plants alone.It ended up that you had a beetle convention on your property and more arrived to party than were killed by the bait!

I may try Serenade for the fungus; it's supposed to be organic.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 9:10PM
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I researched flea beetle control last year when their numbers became exceptionally high in my tomato garden. The only thing that I found that has any indication for treatment of flea beetles (that is organic) is the use of beneficial nematodes.

They can be purchased online and are mixed with water and sprayed onto the soil, and subsequently watered in. The nematodes do nothing to kill the adult flea beetles, but rather, they kill the young flea beetle larvae while they are still in the soil - effectively breaking their reproductive life-cycle.

I used nematodes last year and it appeared to have good results. They died back much sooner than they had in the years past and I was able to limit the damage they did.

I normally don't use any controls of any kind for pests, but their numbers exploded early in the season due to an early spring and very wet weather. While flea beetles won't normally kill a healthy stand of tomato plants, they are capable of inflicting significant damage - and I grow plants for food me and my family, not for flea beetles.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 4:00PM
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