Please help what is going on with tomatos

Silken435May 8, 2012

My tomato leaves are turning yellow. What is going on.

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Clickable link to the Silken435's photos:

The crisp edges, to me, look like it was too dry at one point. It would be a good idea to mulch around the plant to keep the moisture level more even.

The experts will be by shortly to tell you why the older leaves are yellow -- with more certainty than if I said what I think.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 1:15PM
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Well, no expert here but I suspect a shot of liquid nitrogen like fish fert would not hurt. Whenever the new leaves are green and the older ones yellowing, I think that. If the new leaves yellow, different story =) Does that agree with your thoughts Missing?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 1:53PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Well they definitely don't look real healthy but without much more info it is impossible to say why for sure.

It could easily be over-watering or a lack of nutrients but it could also be nothing more than environmental. Need to know where you live or at least your gardening zone, what the weather has been like, how much much and what you have fed them, how you amended your soil before planting and with wht, how old the plants are and how long in the ground (or is that a container of some kind?).

The soil is very disturbing in appearance. It doesn't look healthy but pics can be misleading. It looks very dense, very compacted, and what is all the white stuff sprinkled around? The open holes?

Need much more info please.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:22PM
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My guesses, based on the pictures, are the following:

1.) They look like they were very recently transplanted.
2.) They may have been root-bound, under-fertilized, and / or not fully hardened off.
3.) The outside temperatures have been lower than ideal 40s-50s occasionally.

I have seen plants like this in years gone by where I did exactly what I mentioned above. They look like they are stressed, but I wouldn't be too concerned. When I saw this before, they grew out of it in a few weeks with warmer temps.

The above is currently just a guess, based on my own past experiences and what I can glean from your pictures. It'll help your case a lot to give as much information about the plants and your current climate as you can.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 2:44PM
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I am in Connecticut. Over night temps have been over 50. I just did a soil test and it was nitrogen deficient I put down 10-10-10 and the holes are from squirrels. I added peat moss when i tilled my garden. And it has rained every couple days for the last 2 weeks.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 3:11PM
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What are the daytime highs like? If they're barely making it into the 60s and it's been raining a lot, that would explain the way they look - at least part of it.

I don't know where you are in Connecticut, but I just picked a city at random (Andover) and according to the recorded temps for last week, there was only one day (yesterday) where the daily high reached into the low 70s. Most of the daytime highs were in the 50s to low 60s.

Tomatoes ideally like daytime temps to be around 75-80 and nighttime temps around 60-65. Sure, your nighttime temps haven't been going significantly below 50 (though a few nights show temps in the 45 degree range), but the daytime temps haven't been picking up, and to top it off, you've been getting very frequent rain.

Tomatoes will tolerate temps into the high 40s and low 50s, but they don't like them, and they don't do as well when these temps are sustained... And regular rain at these temps doesn't help either.

The combination of the two of those (too much rain, colder than ideal temps), in my opinion, will produce at least some of the symptoms you see.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 3:32PM
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Daytime highs have been 60s - 70s I am in East Hartford. Thank you all for helping. I planted them out because they were getting root bound in their pots and i didn't have to means to pot them up.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 3:47PM
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I'm a bit to the west of you, so a little colder, but have had the 1/4" every other day rain. Temps have been off and on I'm just starting to harden off now. Nightime lows have been generally mid-low 40's (once we got past the freeze warnings 2 weeks ago), maybe a couple nights near 50.

Did you harden them off before planting? You're in a little warmer location, so they may be OK once things warm up the next couple of days, but looks like we've got a couple rainy days back-to-back next week too.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:33PM
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Had them outside in a sheltered area for 2 weeks before I planted

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Depending on where you had them and when you planted they may not have gotten much sun (haven't seen a lot of that in the last 2 weeks!). Did you leave them out overnight a few nights before planting?

How do they look now? You may need to give them some shade this w/e, and definitely next Friday when it's supposed to be sunny, but if they hang in there for the next 10 days we should start having some good tomato weather (cross my fingers).

My plants got about 1 hr indirect sun day b4 yesterday (not counting the days I was potting them up last week), today are in a cold frame with south side open (but protected from rain in case we have sudden downpour)for the past 2 hours, I may give them a little longer today. I'm hoping in a week I'll be able to leave them outside and maybe plant the 20th-24th or so.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

I agree with Dave that the soil looks odd. Does it drain well? With all the rain you have been getting, the plants could be experiencing too much water, roots drowning is a common cause of yellowing leaves.

Have you dug your finger into the soil 4-6 inches? If so was it real wet, or just damp. If you squeeze a handful of it, does it form a ball that breaks easily into loose soil or does it stay clumped into wet gobs? If it is real wet, or stays in a wet gob, you can be pretty certain your soil is too wet for optimal root conditions.

I hope that helps.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 12:48PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I just did a soil test and it was nitrogen deficient I put down 10-10-10 and the holes are from squirrels. I added peat moss when i tilled my garden. And it has rained every couple days for the last 2 weeks.

How much peat moss? From the pics it looks like far too much. And why did you think it was needed?

Peat moss compacts, causes moisture issues, and is very acidic. Adding too much of it can easily skew your soil pH way out of line so that none of the nutrients in the soil can be used by the plants.

And sprinkling around some 10-10-10 if that is what the white sprinkles are isn't going to help any. It has to be mixed into the soil well and in the proper amounts. And that is assuming the soil test was even accurate - which the home made soil test kits are not.

If it wasn't for all the rain you have already had and the poorly draining soil I'd recommend giving them a good dose of a decent liquid fertilizer and see if they don't perk up substantially. With all the rain and that soil you'll likely just have to wait till it dries out some.

With all that squirrel digging could they be damaging roots too?


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 1:50PM
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CAES in Windsor will do free soil tests and I think they're through their backlog (no samples waiting when I dropped mine off Monday) - did you do a lab test or a home test? Before or after the peat moss? Dave's right, the peat could be making it really soggy.

What varieties are they and how many do you have? Hope you don't have a big investment if the soil is too soggy. Email me if you need anything.

Here is a link that might be useful: CAES soil testing

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 4:53PM
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Tomato varieties are : Cherry 100 , Super BeefSteak, Roma
I followed the directions on the bag of peat moss tilled it in because last year my soil wouldn't hold water really sandy soil under a pine tree.

Soil ph is neutral.
I did a home test I bought at home depot for fertility.

If it wasn't for all the rain the soil drains too well. Had to water everyday last year, Its all sand and dust.

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

under a pine tree.

Under the drip line of a pine tree? Soil under a pine tree is by its nature, very acidic. Not only is acidic soil required for pines to grow but all the needles they shed every year are also very acidic and very slow to decompose and return even close to neutral.

There is ample evidence to support the lack of accuracy in the home soil test kits. Studies (see discussions here) show they will always test neutral pH, they will always test low N, and they will usually test low to normal P and K even though there is no known ow P soil in the US.

So with soil that is already acidic and now with all the peat added your soil pH is most likely well down into the acid range pH and most all nutrients are locked up in that soil and unavailable to the plants.

Lime, used to raise the pH back into a normal range takes several months to work so even after you apply it you are going to have to heavily over-dose those plants with nutrients - preferably in a liquid form so they can absorb them quickly - or dig them up and move the 3 of them to containers while they are still small enough to move.

As already mentioned a professional soil test, available for approx. $10 from your local county extension office or other local source is going to be the best way to get that bed back on track.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Actually, low P (as well as low pH) is pretty common in native CT soils, unless it's been fertilized in the past. But East Hartford is urban, who knows what Silken's soil is and where it came from. If it's under a pine tree and the pine tree isn't dying, for sure it's acidic and then you added peat which will make it even more so, unless you limed when you tilled the peat in. But you really need to get a lab test done to know what's going on. Soil sample needs to be dry, but Windsor isn't that far away and like I said CAES will do it for free, usually a week turnaround (though it was 3 weeks last month!).

At least if it's only 3 plants (?) it's not a big loss though it looks like you spent $ for drip hose? As Dave said, you can always grow tomatoes in containers (though I'd look for determinate varieties) this year, and get your soil in shape for next year.

Do you have some area of the lawn that has been limed for years and gets more sun that you could move them to?

Here is a link that might be useful: UCONN soil test interpretation

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 2:52PM
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