Tomato leaves curling- is there no cure?

Lesuko(5, Boulder CO)June 8, 2012

First it was my stupice (2/3), then the cherokee (1/4), jaune (1/4), and brandywine (1/4) started curling.

Here's what I see:

curling upwards

starts from top then makes its way down

no purplish veins

curled leaves feel thicker

some yellowing of leaves but on the very bottom older leaves and I think this is normal, right

have flea beetles but no other visible pests on the plants- no aphids, physillids, or thrips that I can see.

it's a brand new bed with planter's mix (soil and 30% bio one compost)- we did add a little more compost since we had extra

They get regular watering- same all the time and since we aren't getting rain, it hasn't been too wet.

I've read about tomato leaf curl virus but I've also read that it's a southern thing.

Will I have tomatoes? I don't want to lose everything.

Any ideas?



No option to upload a photo. Is it this topic? I know I can sometimes and not others...

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

To upload a photo to this forum, the photo needs to be somewhere on the web. You can get a free Photobucket account, post your photo there, and then follow the instructions here:

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 11:46PM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Note the dates on what ever lititure you find.
I have the exact same thing.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 4:34AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Most likely the leaves will relax over time. Had the same thing last year and couldn't figure it out. Overwater, underwater, too hot, too cold. By later in June the plants looked normal.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 8:54AM
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I have had almost no sign of any fungal diseases this year on the tomatoes -- the dry hot weather I think has been very helpful and I planted the tomatoes farther apart this year (24" in hex pattern vs. about 18" hex last year).

The only thing I see going on is a significant amount of leaf curl like you mention in this post -- on some plants it even seems to be gnarling the leader growth to be all twisted rather than straight up and away. No bugs, no leaf spot. Just very curled leaves and what seems like an overly thick main trunk on the tomato with less height.

I seem to think they are getting plenty of water -- as whenever its not raining for a couple/three days I hit them with the drip tape irrigation for an hour or so (every so often with some liquid fertilizer). The top of the soil seems dry in a day, but the root zones seem to be holding water well for several days after watering.

How can you say for sure if it is the tomato leaf curl virus? I am in Ohio, but hear it is mostly southern as well.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 10:01AM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

I have this issue as well, and would love to know the cause... the curling is only happening on my large tomato plants (big boy, Mr. stripey, black prince, celebrity), but not my cherry's (husky reds). All plants were planted in the same medium (top soil + homemade compost)

At first it seemed like all the large tomatoes were having issues (BER, insect damage, splitting). I was about ready to rip out all the troublesome plants and resolve myself to only growing cherry's (not a bad idea considering how many the wife and I eat).

Patience has finally paid off though, I have an over-abundance of large tomatoes that look as good as they taste. The plants still look sad with their curled leaves, but the fruit is excellent.

My Black Prince... a lovely tomato. I especially like it in salsa with it's deep dark color.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 5:21PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

There is no one cause of leaf curl b/c it can happen if it's too wet, too dry, too hot or too cold.

If the leaves curl over into a tube like structure then check for aphids.

Many hybrid varieties have leaves that curl normally and other varieties will have curled leaves when the fruit burden is high.

If you don't see any other symptoms other than leaf curling just chalk it up to primarily environmental reasons and there's a very good possibility that the leaf curling will disappear with time.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If you type 'tomato leaf roll' into the search bar on this forum you will find a large number of discussions about what it is, what causes it, and what can be done to prevent it. That is the official name of this issue - Physiological Leaf Roll of Tomato. You can also Google it for even more info.

To quote the many previous discussions: "Tomato leaf roll is not a disease, it is a physiological response of the plant to environmental stress. The most common cause of that stress is inconsistent soil moisture levels. A secondary cause is excess nitrogen fertilizer. Avoid excess N fertilizer, stabilize the soil moisture levels so they are consistent rather than one extreme to another, use thick layers of mulch around the plants and insure there are no pests bothering the plant and the issue goes away."


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:10PM
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Karlieb(6b SEKansas)

I've given up on trying to figure out weird leaf roll issues on my plants. I have one black krim with crazy rolled leaves, but the black krim to its left and the kellog's breakfast to its right (same bed) don't have the issue.

It sets its fruit, the fruit progresses normally, there's no yellowing of leaves so I'm just gonna wait it out since it doesn't seem to hurt.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Lesuko(5, Boulder CO)

Hmmm, thanks.

I forgot to mention that all of my tomatoes are heirloom except the juane flamme which is also curling/rolling. But, as mentioned above, it doesn't seem to be happening to my cherries. Isn't it weird that it's happening all over? Or maybe just to a new gardener...

I know it's not aphids- battled them last year and started squishing them early this year and I don't have a problem with them now- actually except for flea beetles and caterpillars it's been ok.

Last year our stupice did curl and then we learned it had blight so we pulled it out early- about end of june. By late summer, others had gotten blight but we still got a good amount of tomatoes. This year all the tomatoes are in a new bed.

I'm attaching the link. Very jealous of those already with tomatoes... Thanks for the link on how to post as well.

As you can see in the last photo, this is what my plants looked like right before the curl- thick leaves, stiff stem.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 12:03AM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Viral Infections: Some viral infections also cause leaf rolling in tomatoes. When tomato plants are infected with tomato yellow leaf curl virus (transmitted by whiteflies), new leaves become cupped and pale green in color. In addition the entire plant may exhibit stunted growth, yellowing leaf edges, purplish veins on the undersides of leaves and decline of fruit production. A second virus, tomato mosaic virus, causes rolling of leaves, but other symptoms, including mottled-coloring of leaves, small leaflets and internal browning of infected fruit, distinguish it from physiological or herbicide-induced leaf roll.
Here read ,,,,...

Here is a link that might be useful: Clemson Link to article

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 6:01AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Lesuko, in the most recent post, the first two photos look like there is herbicide damage to the upper parts of the potato-leaved plant(s). I would guess 2,4-D (or perhaps clopyralid/aminocloprid?) as opposed to Round-up, but I'm not an expert. Have you treated the lawn with broad-leaf herbicide this spring, or has a neighbor sprayed his lawn? Have you used manure or straw (or compost which might have contained manure or straw) in that area is the past year or two?

If the cherries aren't affected by the leaf roll, are they perhaps off to one side, where the soil might be different? Or perhaps the cherries might be in an area where water collects -- or if the weather has been very wet, an area which drains well?

If you mulch those plants, it will probably help with the non-herbicide leaf roll, since mulch helps keep the soil moisture more consistent.

By the way, "blight" as a general term doesn't give much information. There are three very different tomato diseases with "blight" as part of the name: Late Blight, Early Blight, and Southern Blight (despite their names, all three can occur at any time and in any location). There are dozens of other tomato diseases, too. So just "blight" doesn't tell us what the problem actually was -- and it may not have been something that required destroying the plants.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 11:15AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

There is a difference between curling leaves and leaf roll b'c that latter usually appears early in the season and is the result of the root and foliage masses being out of balance, and corrects itelf as the plants mature.

Lesuko, Jaune Flammee IS an heirloom tomato variety. My seeds from Norbert in France in 1992.

Also, for many years I lived and gardened in Denver so know Boulder well, and the area, at least then and probably still now does not have the more serious viral diseases.

What are known as the gemini tomato viruses are found much more often in the South , and now on both coasts, but primarily along the Gulf Coast.

I went through the pictures again and I don't see any evidence of 2-4 D herbicide damage, but see below, and if it were I would expect other plants to be affected as well unless they were sheltered from the drift.

Stupid Carolyn once Roundupped ( glyphosphate) her tomato field when preparing for a Master Gardeners group that were coming for a visit. Even got up early when no wind was blowing, but never underestimate the drift that can occur. All was well and I damaged just the bottom foliage of a few of the hundreds of plants out there, thank heavens.

Lesuko, the only plant I'm not sure about is the third one down, the PL one and it could be 2-4 D damage as was mentioned above, but why just the one plant if it was a drift problem. have you used any herbicides recently or anyone nearby?

Or was it a weak spindly seedling when you put it out and it looks young so maybe leaf roll, maybe leaf curl, I don't really know.

But again,herbicide damages don't target just one plant, whatever the herbicide is.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 3:31PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Just to be clear, the "first two photos" I was referring to were the first two in Lesuko's most recent post, not the first two when counting from the top of the thread.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Lesuko(5, Boulder CO)

Thanks Carolyn and everyone.

I am now seeing leaf curl/roll on my cherries. Humph. I rarely use chemicals and if I need to it's something organic. So, no roundup. And I doubt my neighbors are using it too- though I'll ask. No manure and my straw bales are from last year which didn't seem to cause any problems to plants- and I only just mulched yesterday (We're late but were putting in an irrigation system).

I have flowers but no fruit forming yet- that I can see. Of course I don't know if our 95 degree saturday rendered the buds pollenless? If thats what happens when it gets too hot- when they can't fertilize.

At a closer look, some plants are curled on top, some in the middle. It's not consistent. I guess I'll wait some more to see what happens. It's going to be hot this year so I imagine it will stress my plants out even more.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 1:46PM
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