Oh dear... Virus?

Djole(6)May 31, 2012

I need an opinion on this plant. Did a search around the web for CMV, TMV etc. but couldnt really find a complete match. Lower leaves on the plant are curled, while top leaves are a bit gnarly. It's a tigerella (Mr. Stripey) tomato.

We've had rubbish weather, rained every day for about 8 days in a row, temperatures were in 55-73 range. Soil is generally well drained but during the rainy days it was soggy. It's also impoverished and the plant has been fed with organic pelleted manure (5-3-2).

3 more plants (different varieties) out of 100 have shown similar symptoms but to less extent.

Photos were taken one after another.

What are we dealing with?



Here is a link that might be useful: Photos

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Oh dear, perhaps herbicide damage, with 2 possible origins.

1. Someone used 2,4-D somewhere in the general vicinity.

2. Manure is contaminated w/ clopyralid or related compound (herbicides) -- see these pages for symptoms, also how to do simple bio-assay to confirm or not.

The homepage with symptoms & more http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/soilmgmt/clopyralid.htm

For bio-assay http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/soilmgmt/pubs/clobioassay.pdf

Here is a link that might be useful: bio-assay & more

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 7:41PM
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I'm pretty sure it's not the manure. It's from a well known manufacturer and has an organic certificate. Also i've used it on all of the plants but only those 3 show symptoms. I can't tell if anyone used the 2,4-D, but i found the position of the plants on plot to be a bit awkward for herbicide damage originating from neighbors (correct me if im wrong). Here is the layout, not very precise but showing the general position (I - healthy plants; X - affected plants; N - new plants, planted in the past 2-3 weeks).


I googled clopyralid based on the articles and info you linked, there are similarities but i don't think my plants are damaged/affected to the extent shown on the photos which might be why i'm having trouble IDing this.
I'd go with the bio-assay to make sure it's not the fert, problem is i need to rule out or confirm viruses, in order to pull before it's to late and the rest of the plants get infected. Can you positively confirm this is not a virus?


    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:24PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Djole, from what I've read clopyralid (and aminopyralid?) can persist for a year or more (I'm not sure they know what the upper limit is). If few of your plants are affected, and those affected aren't severely damaged, perhaps that means the contamination occurred quite a while ago and it only remains in certain parts of your garden.

Could you have used something a year or two ago which might have been contaminated: manure, straw, bagged compost, etc.? Or were tomatoes planted in the same area last year?

I'm wondering also what the rules are for certified organic manure. (From what I saw online, it looks like any sort of manure is automatically considered organic simply because it's manure; I didn't see any mention that there could be non-organic manure or that the organicness of the manure depended on what the animal had been eating. Or that manure needed to be tested for clorpyralid contamination before it could be sold under an organic label.)

Does that area of your garden receive run-off from any place uphill which might have contaminated material?

Another interesting thread:

I have a couple of bales of straw which I was intending to add to the tomatoes' mulch. Maybe I'll start some pea seedlings first....

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:48PM
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Did you spray them with anything... neem oil/soap water? I managed to burn a few of my plants a bit this year while trying to get rid of aphids/white fly infestation. Turns out doing it in hot weather is not a good idea even after sun goes down, which I looked up right after doing just that >.>

Anyway, only some of mine were affected, have 15 different kinds this year... and they seem to be growing out of it now.... I don't think yours is a virus. Either you over loving them or one of your neighbors hates weeds too much.

I see green lacewings swarming now, so gonna let nature take its course on my tomatoes this year... cukes still getting neem oil treatment... those cuke beetles are the devil.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:11AM
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the0ry(8a Pac NW)

My main thought from your photos: my goodness your fingernails are well kept, my Gran would be so impressed.
Sorry if that seems flippant, I like to lighten the mood with the occasional joke or irrelevant comment (and your fingernails do seem impressively clean).
My only really substantive comment comes from your later posting when you said you are worried about virus and pulling before its too late. If you are truly worried about virus, I'd sugeest pulling the plants. Most everyone I know who grows at market level (you said 100 plants so I assume you fit that category) can accept a 3% loss at the risk to 97% of healthy plants. Lets think about the possible outcome paths: If you pull them and the rest of the plants become affected, either you waited too long (at which point this convo is moot) or the problem was systemic and you lose nothing by having pulled those 3 plants early. If you pull the plants and the other plants produce fine, then 1) either the problem was contagious and you resolved it by pulling the plants early (hooray!), or 2) there whas no real problem and you wasted 3% of your yields by pulling the plants. Think a little on each outcome and what is acceptable/unacceptable to you. Sometimes knowing the "truth" isn't as important as making timely decisions that maximize the information you have available.
Best wishes,

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:38AM
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Nothing was planted on that plot for at least 50 years. It was covered in some young black locust trees and shrubs which we cleared to plant toms.
Run-off is an option as the plot is sloped but then the positioning of the affected plants doesn't make too much sense. As for the manure - it's sterilized, enriched and granulated - http://memon.beta.sors.nl/dynamic/media/26/documents/Folders/Productcatalogus%20UK.pdf look under Siforga. For all i know it's tested, although there's no statement of a kind in the brochure.

We didn't have aphids nor whiteflies, or anything for that matter, nor did we spray. I am over-loving them but it's strictly emotional for the time beeing :)

Social work will do that to you :P I'm trying to counter-balance with gardening but potential virus was just too much to handle :) I must say you did cheer me up during these wretched times of trouble ;) Anyways my thoughts on the pulling were exactly the same, and as i was preparing to make a move on the poor thing, my gf and my partners gf started feeling sorry for it and thought we'd at least try to ask 1st.

Now with all that been said, 2 (not one but TWO) important things crossed my mind as i was failing to fall asleep last night ;)

1. When transplanting some of the plants on the plot (not all), we dropped some kitchen waste in the transplantation hole - BANANA PEELS (bananas bought in the supermarket, didn't wash the peels), GREEN TEA LEAVES (bought in a healthy food shop) and COFFEE GROUNDS. Could the bananas or the leaves be the source of herbicide? It might explain the systematical part as the whole plant has issues (leaf roll on bottom, gnarlyness on top).

2. It's a Tigerella (Mr. Stripey) plant, and it has a truss with around 20-25 flowers. First thought was - what a shame to pull a plant with so many flowers. Then i realized that tigerella shouldn't produce like some cascading cherry currant. Frankenrella.

Could 1 and 2 indicate some sort of damage and/or mutation originating from the sources mentioned? And most importantly, would these be safe to eat (i guess their organicness is quite disputed if this is the case)? :)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 6:08AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

You might have an old piece of root from a black walnut.
Juglone doesn't migrate much through the soil but it is long lasting. Locust , like siberian elm , is one of the few trees that grows happily among black walnuts and other juglone producers.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:34PM
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There is a walnut tree (juglans regia, not the black walnut but the same family) at around 30 yards from that plant. I was told that AoE for juglene is usually within the branches reach of the tree, hence didn't take that into consideration. There are also plants closer to it which don't show symptoms.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:46PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Seeing your diagram, I'd go w/ the0ry's suggestion and take the 3% loss.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Dottie really made me think about walnuts, it is POSSIBLE that amongst the young black locust trees we removed there were walnuts too. It was early in the season so there wasn't any foliage to tell which is which, but i noticed a fairly different density (axe-strike-wise) while chopping. Root spread was different too. We tried to remove as many and as deep as we could, but some were too tough/unreachable so we left them in the ground.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 1:16PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Djole, I don't know about banana peels, except that I eat several dozen bananas every year and put the peels in my compost (which is just an area and not a proper compost pile) and haven't seen anything like your twisted tomato growth. No problem with tea leaves either; I've used a lot of them on houseplants, too (uncomposted, since they're already nice small pieces). And coffee grounds are a composting favorite, with some lucky people using large quantities.

Re. juglone poisoning:

Symptoms of black walnut toxicity are variable, and can sometimes mimic symptoms of diseases or physiological disorders. Walnut toxicity will often show up as a wilting or drooping of leaves, first partial, then total. This is especially true for fast-growing annual plants, such as potatoes or tomatoes.

Tomatoes, for example, show symptoms of yellowing and discoloration of the leaves, as well as twisting and puckering. Discoloration and darkening of internal stem tissue can also occur.

Tomatoes are particularly susceptible.

Tomatoes may develop a telltale darkening inside their stems. Malformation of the plant as it grows suggests juglone poisoning.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 2:38PM
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I know this is going to sound completely silly but is there any virus/disease/toxin/disorder of any kind that will cause the dramatic increase in numbers of flowers per truss?

There's so many weird things with this particular plant that a part of me wants to keep it badly. On the other hand i highly value opinions of fellow gardenwebbers so i'd go with Jeans suggestion. At the moment my primary concern is whether it's a virus or not. If it's not a virus, i'd let it grow and see what happens for the sake of science ;)
I'd love to hear Daves and Carolyns thoughts on this too. Then i can put it on a vote and make a final decision :)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 3:03PM
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We didn't pull the plant yet. Here's a new set of 6 pics taken moments ago (3 days after the 1st set). My buddy took the pics, he says that *live* it looks better than few days ago. I can't see any progression for worse on photos.

Here is a link that might be useful: 6 new photos

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 8:18AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

is there any virus/disease/toxin/disorder of any kind that will cause the dramatic increase in numbers of flowers per truss?

No. But stress can. Sorry but all I see in these pics is stress. Classic tomato leaf roll most likely caused by all the rainy weather and that should disappear once the weather settles. And a bit of yellowing of new growth indicating the need for some N since all the rainy wet soil slows N uptake in new growth. This is not to say I can't be wrong. Heaven knows that sure isn't true. But that if they were my plants and I had this info that is what I'd decide was happening right now.

If you have ruled out herbicide damage, which does appear similar although usually more pronounced, and juglone toxicity, which usually shows more severe damage IME, then you are left with "maybe" a small amount of juglone toxicity that may or may not kill the plant, or lots of lousy weather and stressed plants as a result.

Growers often have the tendency to jump right on the disease bandwagon out of fear of it spreading. That's fine if that is the approach they want to follow. But we tend to forget that the serious, terminal viral diseases are rare. Unlike common Early Blight, Septoria, and Alternaria, viral diseases are the least most likely cause of problems. All the environmental issues - hundreds of them - need to be ruled out first.

So when in doubt, its a mindset choice - (1) decide it's nasty disease and could spread so destroy the plant right away and move on so you don't have to worry about it or (2) assume it is most likely some sort of environmental issue, try to ID and fix that issue if possible, monitor the plant, and be patient.

Either approach works but I've always preferred the latter approach and most of the time, over many years, it has paid off. :) Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 12:20PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I can't really tell from the photos, but as the plants grow, monitor the new growth. If the very new growth is not twisted, that would indicate the twisting was caused by herbicide damage (or some other cause which is no longer present).

Mind you, the original twisted growth will not un-twist.

If the newest growth over the next week or so is just as twisted, then you have either a virus or some continuing factor like juglone in the area of the roots.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 12:24PM
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* Sorry but all I see in these pics is stress.

Don't be sorry, thats great news ;)

We'll keep monitoring the plant and see what comes out in the end. Maybe we'll end up with some nutty-flavored tigerellas, who knows ;)

TYVM all for clearing this out.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 9:53AM
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