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Tomato Leaf Curl

Posted by stevemac00 none (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 8, 13 at 15:59

Looking down to bottom of tomato plant in photo below.
Only bottom leaves are curling.
Only bottom leaves have that yellow blotchiness. Ideas?
  • 600w HPS is at least 36" above these leaves.
  • EC maintained at 1.8-2.0 (~1000 TDS)
  • PH 6.2-6.4
  • CalMag-ic is used at res change every 10 days
  • Not all plants have these symptoms

Tomato photo


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

Lots of possibilities; probably not easy to zero in on with the given info, unless someone out there just knows ;-). Are you using RO water? I ask because the only thing out of the ordinary mentioned is you are using Cal-Mag supplement regularly. So right off the bat, it would be hard to call it Mg deficiency, and I guess some disease would be the first impulse given curl, but curl could be an environmental response too (hopefully!) that will go away if it has a non-pathogen basis.

But the Cal-Mg brings up two questions: They contain nitrogen usually. Careful with excess nitrogen due to that... and secondly if you have the need for Cal Mag, how are the sulfate levels? The pictures look like chlorosis of some type, which could fit lack of sulfur, that least attended to macronutrient especially tomatoes need.


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

Knowledgable response. Thanks.

CalMagic (GH) has 1% N. I'm using mostly rainwater but occasionally use some city tap water to increase ph along with small amount PH up.

But your response gave me an idea. I had BER on first two heirloom tomatoes so I thought I'd make a spray using distilled water and a few drops of CalMagic. No more BER but those were very early tomatoes and I probably didn't need to spray. Was that a stupid idea?

I use GH Flora series and add most of the "aggressive" supplements but cut back on the FloraGro 2-1-6 to reduce N and maintain EC at a reasonable amount.

I can only check EC. How does one check N levels?


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

You need to say the complete recipe you are using to be able to say anything. But rainwater, even 'acid rain' is removing a good portion of your sulfate. Grow doesn't have much, and Micro forget it ... they hide the sulfur in Bloom. So if you are using rain water and *minimal Bloom*, Cal-Mag, and *minimal tap*, you will in fact be sulfur deficient. But the other agressive stuff, you don't mention might address the sulfur, can't say what isn't here.

If, thinking out loud, sulfur is the problem (and even if it isn't but on the low side, the tomatoes still won't taste as good), one way to do that is, to combine adjusting pH Down with topping off - experiement making your own nitrogen-free Cal-Mag. Acidify gypsum (the plaster of paris dihydrate) at 1.5 grams per ten gallons application rate and sprinkle it for pH Down That tiny amount will give 7 ppm of S and 9 ppm of Ca per ten gallons. Separately, sprinkle 1.0 gram of epsom salt per 10 gallons, resulting in 2.5 Mg and 3.5 ppm S. That 1.5:1.0 ratio of these compounds (CaSO4*2H2O and MgSO4*7H20) if you make sure you can get them to dissolve will give you the control over your water hardness to make it ideal and sans other tap contaminants.

Personally I blend tap with rain but I am pissed about the the disinfectants, their decomposition products and in my case chloride, sodium and sulfates are simply too high to do much with it raw. I just blend it to give me 37 ppm calcium and 17 ppm Mg but I have a quantitative analysis of my tap, which doesn't vary much.

Experimenting (ref-your foliar Ca-Mg application) is never a stupid idea, and when something is going well, you should feel great, but just not assume a cause-effect until you can prove it ;-). It would be a good emergency measure to get magnesium into the plant, though calcium chloride is usually not in cal-mag, and if it is carbonate that might leave a residue or mess with the leaf pH and maybe add a little CO2. So not so sure on that one for Calcium.

Another easy way to get sulfur is to switch to sulfuric acid as a pH Down and use a somewhat higher volume of your tap.

As for N levels, that usually requires a lab analysis. There are some test kits out there (I have a ten buck or so 10 tests x 4 --pH, N, P, K-- one in my hand right now - for soil, called luster leaf rapitest soil test kit which might be adaptable). But it is a whole lot easier to trust the guaranteed analyses and use ingredients that are clear (Don't look at me, I use solid nutes). But your Cal-Mag, if a significant source of N could overdose N if used in excess. When deceptive hydro companies put 1-0-0 on the label, N could be just about 2% for all we know, legally labeled. They are all a bunch of snake oil sales, and if anything GH is less deceptive than some of the others. Their CaMg product you use does have some extra iron, don't know if you need that - but on the flip side the problem isn't likely iron deficiency at that pH.

EDIT: My rapitest actually can test hydroponic solutions, at least for nitrate N, thanks for getting me to check on it. The pink N0,N1,N2,N3,N4 range in the kit is 0,10,20,40,80 ppm's. So all you need to do in the tomato range is dilute nute solution:rainwater 1:1 multiply the ppm's X 2. If you want more precision, follow up with a second test 1:3 and multiply by 4 and use both results to arrive at your best guess. It's better than just having one color to call it. Same deal in this kit for P and K, though the ranges are different. Great, I can use this kit after all (soil here is worthless for vegetable gardening no matter who tests it with whatever so I had all these kits sitting I thought I would be using, then gave up and was about to toss)

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Sat, Nov 9, 13 at 2:54


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

I'm going to add, I am thinking it is a nutrient problem now. Given what you've said so far I would worry about the following combination causing this, if it really is nutrient-related:

S- and K deficiency, K- made worse by excess Mg+. S deficient for my previous thoughts on use of demineralized water, possible magnesium excess due to reliance on Cal-Mag, if the fertilizer already has enough Mg (but initially not enough Ca), and possible potassium deficiency due to your comments of cutting back on Grow. Potassium could locked out with too much Cal-Mag, you may have the EC ok, but proportion of Ca/Mg overcompensated.

All this is speculation and there are many possibilities (like N- *deficiency* actually which starts on the older leaves just like that, but from what it sounds, you are worried about N+ if anything). I hope it helps, and better yet - just share the quantitative nute recipe so we can see for sure. The thing is if this is the problem they still look like they can make a quick recovery before things get too bad.

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Sat, Nov 9, 13 at 2:23


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

-"share the quantitative nute recipe"

I just used the GH generic recipe and made some minor changes like more FloraBloom and less FloraGro. But I took the laborious task of setting everything up in a spreadsheet so I at least know the percentages.

Here's a summary of how I made the calculations. The percent of the element multiplied by the volume of the element divided by the sum of all volumes.

Using N and K from FloraMicro and FloraGro as an example.
FloraMicro is N5%/K1% and FloraGro is N2%/K6%.
If 10ml of each is added to a reservoir, the total percent of N is 3.5% (10/20*.05 + 10/20*.02) and K is 3.5% (10/20*.01 + 10/20*.06). That is, equal parts N and K in this trivial example.

Assuming my calculations are correct, the recent formula is:
N 2.73%
P 0.76%
K 2.33%
S 0.04%
Fe 0.02%
Ca 0.34%
Mn 0.34%
Mg 0.67%

Here is the table taken from the GH ingredient labels.

Elem CalMag FloraMicro FloraGro FloraBloom KoolBloom DiaNec -licous Nectar Rapid
N 1.00% 5.00% 2.00% 5.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2.00% 1.00% 1.00%
P 0.00% 0.00% 1.00% 0.00% 10.00% 1.00% 0.80% 0.00% 0.50%
K 0.00% 1.00% 6.00% 4.00% 10.00% 1.00% 0.02% 0.00% 1.00%
S 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 1.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.50% 0.00%
Fe 0.10% 0.10% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.05%
Ca 5.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Mg 1.50% 0.00% 0.50% 1.50% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.50% 0.00%

Edited to remove extra Fe line (which was all 0%) and small changes to formula mix due to my error.

This post was edited by stevemac00 on Sun, Nov 10, 13 at 8:19


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

Is that the 17 gallon (res+channels) Aeroflo2-18 system? Or is this a different set up from the last one you mentioned.

I'm sure you have a great handle on that spreadsheet, but it would be better to start upstream when troubleshooting by just listing the program variant you're using. For example, above you've listed Fe twice:
Fe 0.015%
Ca 0.013%
Fe 0.076%
and there is certainly more Calcium that you have listed. You may actually have done the calculations right, I haven't looked carefully. Part of the problem is the definition of "Guaranteed Analysis" as usual with these sorts of dilute products and they don't always list all non-NPK contents since the law isn't in line with needs, and those are the minima, not necessarily the typical contents. If you dilute 300 grams (not mL - ml is probably like 340ml) of the net cocktail you've listed percentages for for example in 17 gallons, you get in ppms:

N 127, P 18, K 175, Mg 26, Ca 1, S 2, Fe 0.7, Mn 2.3, and the other "Fe" 3.5, which if Zn or Cu (since they aren't mentioned) could be getting toxic. Obviously you have not included any Cal-Mg if Ca is under 1 ppm. BTW I've adjusted P,K for the industry oxide factors to revert tp elemental ppm's since it looks like you are using the industry PK numbers right off the label.

So the recipe isn't accurate, but right off the bat, if you are using for example 3:2:1 or 1:2:3 (not saying either's best), sulfur will be a false alarm - its ratio will be fine either way. However, Bloom has *lots* of Magnesium to be used for large adjustments to NPK. To much magnesium can cause your symptoms (see above post), and if you were to then add more via Cal Mg...(again, you show calcium to be only trace, so if that is guiding you, you are making Ca up with it, the Mg will spike to 100 ppm or something of that order, which will get toxic.

Here is something that may help you for the trio Grow Bloom Micro:

Online GH Flora Series Calculator

While the calculator will probably cause you to rethink your spreadsheet, it it doesn't have the other products keeping good quantification a secret, like these campanies like. The GH calculator is actually the best thing out there for the dilute fertilizer sellers which makes the Flora Series the best choice IMO if you prefer manufacturers trade formulations to your own precision made mad scientist mix or just a hydro soluble powdered fert + saltpeter and epsom.

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Sat, Nov 9, 13 at 15:03


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

Are you using a mag-drive pump? They will cause iron deficiencies. Throw some old rusty wire in your reservoir to correct the problem.


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

[N 127, P 18, K 175, Mg 26, Ca 1, S 2, Fe 0.7, Mn 2.3, ... could be getting toxic. Obviously you have not included any Cal-Mg if Ca is under 1 ppm. BTW I've adjusted P,K for the industry oxide factors to revert tp elemental ppm's ....]

I have many questions around this paragraph.
-How are you converting % to ppm?
-Additional Ca is added from the city tap water
-CaMg (CaliMagic) is reduced as the plant progresses (now in the 8th week)
-I have no idea what you mean by the P,K adjustment. I took these as percentages from the labels.

I haven't yet solved the problem. I appreciate the dialog as I'm questioning myself and learning many interesting details I hadn't considered.

This is only the lower leaves and not all the plants so it's difficult to think it's a nutrient problem. Right now I'm betting it was the foliar spray experiment I created to help prevent BER.

I'm including additional photos. This shows a close up of the leaf yellow blotchiness. These are not on every leaf, nor every plant.

The next photo shows some seemingly healthy fruit.

Last photo shows some of the plants. There doesn't seem to be any of the rolled up or yellowed leaves on this side where they get less light leading one to think they're getting too much light or too much radiant heat but I only have a 600w HPS and it's several feet from the yellow and curled leaves. I leave it on about 16-18 hours/day but most of the day run it add 400w with only 600w for about four hours.

Thanks again for the helpful responses.


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

Calcium deficiency can be provoked by Magnesium excess, even when there is plenty of Ca around, you need to check out this possibility.

You are using the percents on the label which makes perfect sense to a logical person, but industry enjoys exaggerating and confusing, or something like that. The N-P-K numbers are only for elements in the first case of N. P is "expressed as P2O5" and K as "K20" which inflates the phosphorus and potassium by adding some hypothetical oxygen that actually isn't in your hydroponic fertilizer. Don't ask why. No sense on reinventing the wheel, here's what Wikipedia has to say about this:

The factors for converting from P2O5 and K2O values to their respective P and K elemental values are as follows:

P2O5 consists of 56.4% oxygen and 43.6% elemental phosphorus. The percentage (mass fraction) of elemental phosphorus is 43.6% so elemental P = 0.436 x P2O5
K2O consists of 17% oxygen and 83% elemental potassium. The percentage (mass fraction) of elemental potassium is 83% so elemental K = 0.83 x K2O
Nitrogen values represent actual nitrogen content so these numbers do not need to be converted.

To convert 2.73% nitrogen to express as ppm when dissolved in water, just specify how much 2.73% fertilizer is in how much water. For 300 *grams* in 17 gallons, the ppms are estimated for the working solution by the weight of nitrogen/ weight of water. A gallon is 3785 grams. In this case 8.19g/64,345g = 0.0001273 To convert fractional part to parts per milliom (ppm) instead of percent, multiply by 1,000,000 instead of 100. That comes out to 127 ppm for N. P and K need to be adjusted by the factors mentioned to get the pure element and then calculated the same way. That's all I did.

The absolute percentages in the fertilizer as you have them are not as relevant as their ratio to each other since a more concentrated fertilizer uses less weight of fertilizer to get to the same point.

I do suspect that you have a nutrient problem though and my thinking base on the limited info is that there may be too much magnesium in there locking out potassium. That I got from the generalitities you've mentioned. However the symptoms as discussed sound more like nitrogen deficiency and there are no more limbs to go out on without real quantitative info and this will all make sense as you get into it more.

For example, if the plants with more light are growing faster, they may have a greater nutrient demand and the plant may do what yours are doing by sapping nutrients from old growth to support and favor younger growth and reproductive tissue (tomatoes!). The last picture seems to be far more pronounced and not limited to the older growth though, not sure, the tones seem to be saturated in yellow (maybe on another monitor is shows up better but I have a cheapo monitor that freaks washing out with saturating colors) making it harder to be sure. That would be expected as the plants begin to further decline as the fertilizer solution goes from slightly to weak to more weaker.

There are just too many possibilities to be hypothesizing more in the absense of concrete nutrient rates by fertilizer and system water volume. Without that specificity I won't be of much more use :)

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Sun, Nov 10, 13 at 15:12


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

Update - the damage was swift and irreparable. Here's what I think happened. I had two chocolate cherry tomato plants at the end furthest from the reservoir. Although pruned, they were unwieldy and interfered with the heirlooms so I pulled them up. In this type of system the roots intermingle in the NFT/Mist chambers and it's certain I removed some heirloom roots and left some chocolate roots to rot, creating a double-edged sword.

Looking back at my notes there was ph drop soon after removal and I had to begin adding PH-UP on a regular basis. The drop in PH I suspect from root rot which caused a magnesium deficiency shown by
Source - Yara magnesium deficiency

Magnesium and Calcium cannot be absorbed with a ph approaching 5.5 and are absorbed best when the ph approached 6.5.

I still have heirlooms to eat but they're smaller in size due to the stress and the yields are significantly decreased.

The interesting thing to note is how the single Sakura Cherry Tomato plant was seemingly unaffected. It has produced about a hundred tomatoes with another hundred ripening while still producing more blossoms. It's incredibly prolific!

In the future I'll stick with more F1 tomatoes. I'm going to attempt heirloom again but in a bato bucket system instead of the aeroponic. The aeroponic system is amazingly fast for lettuce and herbs (21 days from seed to harvest) but really doesn't decrease the time to maturity for tomatoes. Instead it negatively impacts a system as the roots are intertwined.

 photo AerofloToms.jpg


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RE: Tomato Leaf Curl

I've had similar experiences. I couldn't get my greenhouse hydro tomatoes to come in any faster than the high tunnel tomatoes in soil. It takes a specific weather pattern for me in the spring for hydro to beat soil to maturity.

Regarding tomato varieties, there are thousands. There are several web forums based exclusively on tomatoes. Private breeders are producing some great varieties. There are several new dwarf varieties that I think will do great in hydro. As far as a hybrid red slicer goes, Big Beef is I think the most popular now. It certainly did the best for me in the high tunnel compared to all my other reds. I have not tried it in hydro yet.


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