wind damage to young tomatoes :(

peacelovinglilyNovember 20, 2011

Hi all - I'm in Australia - I planted some tomato seedlings a month ago, and the plant had done very well in the warm weather! It shot up a metre or so with gorgeous leafy branches.

Next thing you know, a massive spring storm came with 50+ kph wind, and two of the branches in the middle snapped off. I ended up making a clean cut on both of them to take the branches off properly. It looks naked in the middle now, and very sad.

Could someone tell me what the "effects" of this would be on the plant? Will any new branches / leaves grow from the stumps? Is there a possiblity of infection (rainy weather all week)?

I'm also a bit worried that maybe the plant wasn't as strong as it should have been, which is why the branches broke? After transplanting, I'd been watering with half strength seaweed tonic twice a week, making sure the plant got lots of sun, pinching off flower buds and side-growth, etc etc. Any tips would be appreciated, thanks!


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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

pllily, are you staking or trellising the tomatoes, growing them in cages, or do they just grow wherever they wish? If the tomatoes are supported, what sort of support are you using, how are you tying/fastening them to the support, and how far is it from one fastening to the next?

For instance, I grow most of my tomatoes on a trellis (1.5 x 5 meter section of heavy wire fencing known here as a stock/cattle/hog panel, which is staked about .4 meter off the ground). I try to weave the stems in and out of the openings about every .3 - .4 meter or so, and I fasten the stems about as often with plastic clips. (This is not a very common way of supporting tomatoes, and most people would call the weaving and clip-fastening time-consuming and excessive: but those vines stay put! 8-D Admittedly, when the vines reach the top of the trellis, things get interesting....)

Trimming the rough edges of the broken branches would reduce the chance of disease (less surface area for pathogens to land on). Yes, rainy weather increases the possibility of infection, particularly if you don't mulch under your plant -- rain or sprinkler water striking the soil can dislodge pathogens in the soil and bounce them up onto the plant. The pathogen doesn't need to land on a broken branch to cause an infection: a healthy leaf will work just as well. 8-(

The tomato has a stronger will to survive than most herbaceous plants, and can sprout new growth from just about anywhere. If you already removed the sucker next to a leaf stem, it will happily grow another sucker at that point.

You've lost some growing time, but in another few weeks the area will be concealed by new growth and the damage won't be apparent. I'm not promising the plant will be symmetrical, of course!

The next time you lose a branch, dig a hole wherever you have room and plant it! Depending on the weather, you might want to give it partial shade while it recovers -- and you definitely want to give it regular water. It's best to remove fruit and flowers until you see new growth.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 12:36AM
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Hi misstheobvious, thanks so much for your response! I do stake my plant - I actually tied a couple of branches to the stake too; however, I think the extra 'resistance' actually helped the wind to break it!

I really hope you are right about the new growth! The snipped off branch looks quite stumpy. There are no leaves left whatsover as the entire branch and its leaves went, so any suckers went along with that :(

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 1:34AM
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That weather is something.Truly. Letting a plant sprawl on the ground is a way to defeat the wind issue. Of course,there are negatives as well. I do both,and I am very grateful.

Take care,

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 9:26PM
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