Does Dampening affect larger tomato plants too?

ju1234((8 Dallas TX))May 14, 2014

Several of my tomato plants have died 2-3 weeks after being transplanted to ground. I am pretty sure it was dampening. The ones that toppled over were at least 6" above ground.

I thought dampening was a disease of seedlings only.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Damping off is an issue that affects seedlings. I suggest you investigate stem borers or cut worms.

To research damping off further, Google that term....there is no such thing as "dampening ".

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:40PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

If you have that brown narrow constricted area at the soil line that indicates damping off, then yes,seedlings up to 5-6 inches tall can be affected.

I was surpised by that when I first saw some pictures in one of my tomato pathology books many years ago, but there it is.

It does happen that the seedlings to be put out look fine, but they were already infected, there are three genera and species of fungi that can be involved with damping off, but the infection progresses and then they go down.

What medium were you using to raise your seedlings, as to artificial mix, etc?

Carolyn

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:05AM
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ddsack

Yes, even large plants can get adult damping off - or call it stem fungal disease if you prefer. Every couple of years, I get a larger transplant, growing well for a couple of weeks, with blossoms or even small tomatoes forming that gets a shrunken dried stem area near the ground, which gradually spreads over days to encircle the stem. At first you may mistake it for insect damage, though at this stage the stems are too big and tough for them. The first time I ran into it was because I had newspaper collars wrapped close around the stem to prevent cutworms, and the lack of air circulation and constant damp is a perfect breeding ground for fungus spores. Be sure you keep any mulch away from actually touching the plants stem.

Often the first sign is the plant wilting during the heat of the day, but recovering at night. This can go on for several weeks before the plant succumbs. One year I experimented by spraying the damaged stem with hydrogen peroxide every few days (now I think I should have used a bleach solution instead) and though the plant never grew much larger, the Lauerer did produce some tomatoes on scrawny pathetic vines, even with the daily wilting cycle on hot sunny days.

Last year I had a Chornyi Tarasenko develop it - possibly in the very same garden spot as the Lauerer, so I wonder if the spores cluster in "home sites" in the soil once they are there. I had no spare plants so late in June, so instead of pulling it I tried an experiment of mounding dirt up over the damaged area, making sure I had healthy live stem above it from which roots could form. I took the bottom out of a large nursery container and fitted it over the plant and filled the pot with dirt up to the top, hoping it could sustain itself through the damaged stem roots, while it grew new roots in the pot above the damaged area. I tried to water it often, since it was a black pot and dried quickly in the sun. For many weeks, the plant was limp and any reasonable person would have removed it from the garden due to looks alone! But the leaves did not turn crispy, so I left it alone, and finally one day I could see the leaves were getting perky. Eventually the bush continued growing well, and did set lots of tomatoes, but it was very late in the season. So the moral of the story is, these larger tomato plants can sometimes be saved -- but it's not worth it.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 11:55AM
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labradors_gw

Great post DDSack!

I had the same problem with a couple of plants, and it looked as if something had been chewing around the base of the stem close to the ground. I had mulched them with straw, and I suspected that it could have been the problem. I dug up a plant and the roots looked very healthy, so I mounded up soil around the other plant and it survived. I too had the same problem in the same spot the following year.....

This year I plan to grow my tomatoes at the other end of the veggie garden so they will be growing in "new" soil.

Linda

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 1:15PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Dee, please clarify for me.

Seedlings get infected with the various genera and species of fungi that are in the seed starting mix, if indeed one or more of them are there. Not from ambient spores that get caught inside paper collars.

I've never heard of the term stem fungal disease and am wondering if what you are describing might be something different

I just entered Stem Fungal Disease Tomato at Google and no specific disease by that name, but several other soilborne, systemic diseases that could give you a similar picture, but see below the same picture,

Once seedlings acquire the damping off fungi in the grow mix they stay in the plant and most times will eventually kill it. I remember one person who showed classic pictures of the narrowed brown lesion stem at the soil line who asked if sucker cuttings might work, The answer is no, since the plant itself is already infected,

I looked again at my tomato book, published by Seminis with great pictures since their lab was THE best in the world, and the two most frequent damping off ones are described as to preemergence and post emergence symptoms, and all are described as dark lesions, they use different colors from brown to black, but the lesions on your plant look white to me.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 2:21PM
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ju1234((8 Dallas TX))

Thanks every one for great info.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 4:33PM
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ddsack

Carolyn said "Seedlings get infected with the various genera and species of fungi that are in the seed starting mix, if indeed one or more of them are there. Not from ambient spores that get caught inside paper collars. "

I never thought the spores were in the collars. The plants were good sized and extremely healthy when planted out. I'm sure the spores came from the natural dirt below the collars, and infected the plants after they were planted in their final places, when the overly high collars became soggy through rain and watering, and obstructed air exchange making for welcoming fungus conditions at dirt level. However, I have had a couple of plants in later years - in the very same bed develop the same symptoms without the collars. Hence my suspicion that the spores reside in this particular site, and not equally through out the rest of the garden.

Sorry if you thought I was trying to use official textbook terminology through use of my term "stem fungal disease". I was using it as a personal layperson's generic way of referring to while specifically unknown, clearly fungal infections of the stem. To me, that includes both seedling damping off as well as any fungal stem damage at any other stage of tomato growth. I would prefer to use Adult damping off, but some might consider that oxymoronic.

I'm not sure where you are seeing white lesions in the picture. There was no white mold on it. I think you are focusing on some photographic light reflections bouncing off the stem. The color of the shrunken area was grey or maybe tannish. It just looked like the stem lost all healthy green tissue, shriveled and withered away, right at soil level. If that doesn't fit any known adult tomato disease, then maybe I can claim it as a new one -- Hmmm call it the ddsack shrivel! LOL. I took a few more pictures at the time, but have no idea if they ever got saved on a cd. Next time it happens (not that I hope it does) I will be sure to provide better visual documentation.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 8:09PM
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barrie2m_

Timber rot will commonly infect stems of older plants and the symptoms may be mistaken for Damping off.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:23PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I had newspaper collars wrapped close around the stem to prevent cutworms, and the lack of air circulation and constant damp is a perfect breeding ground for fungus spores. Be sure you keep any mulch away from actually touching the plants stem.

Dee, what you posted ab0ve is what I was going on.

rather than saying adult damping off, which I like, How about post emergent damping off. ( smile)l

Yes, some of those damping off fungi could be in the soil, aka real dirt,,but the most common occurence of damping off,as you know is either preemergent when the darn seeds dont even germinate or if the germinate they go down quickly;

Summary?

you are convinced that what you show is "adult damping off and that's all that reallymatters. Most of the same pictures in my tomato pathology manual are also shown at TAMU, last I knew and maybe they might even show the 6 pak in my book showing post emergent damping off of those 5- 6 inch seedlings.I didn[t check that 0ut at TAMU.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 10:18PM
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