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Please help, what is wrong with my tomatoes?

Posted by garden.nerd SoCal (My Page) on
Thu, May 10, 12 at 15:16

Hi everyone, I'm new (here) and to gardening.

I Planted some beautiful transplants out into my garden a few weeks ago, and after only a few days in the ground several of them developed these ugly black spots. The bottom leaves seem to get it the worst, but I think it must me systemic as single spots here and there have appeared on leaves near the top of the plant. There are also spots on the stems. Four out of the ten plants I planted have it, the other six seem to be okay so far... does anyone have any idea of what this is?

From looking at disease pictures, I think it looks kind of like bacterial speck?

Picture of lower branch:
Tomato disease?, Lower leaf, yellowing starts after a week or so.

More spots:
Tomato disease?, spots

Solitary spot on upper leaf:
Tomato disease?, An example of one of the spots that showed up on an upper leaf.

From what I've read maybe a copper spray would help, or is it too late?

Thank you!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Please help, what is wrong with my tomatoes?

I would deffinatley spray and I used copper last year. Once it warmed up the plants pretty much outgrew it. Pull the spotted leaves and spray with some kind of fungicide.

RE: Please help, what is wrong with my tomatoes?

It's the black on the leaf-stem in the top photo that worries me.

Just pointing this out in hopes one of the experts will take a look.

If you do keep the problem plants, make sure to clean your hands and your tools when going from one plant to another.

Since you're in Southern California, you probably won't have much rain -- which is good in this case. You don't want any germs in the soil to splash up on the leaves. So remove any leaves that touch the soil, don't spray the plant with water, and mulch really well.

When you remove the leaf in the top photo, slice through its stem to see if the center of the stem is dark.

Cut through a stem, green inside

I cut through the black discoloration in the worst looking stem, the inside was green (looked normal). It looks like the black does not go all the way though. Right after I planted out we had a few foggy damp mornings, cooler but not cold by any means. The spots showed up right after that. So far it hasn't spread to any new plants other than the ones it first showed up on. I mulched them with straw right after planting but probably need to add some more.

I'm trying to decide if it would be best to just pull the bad plants up and start over while I still can. I hate to do it, since these were heirlooms I special ordered and I probably won't be able to find more of those particular varieties. I only planted one of each variety - I wanted to try as many as possible! I really hope it's not something that's in my soil now that would infect the new plants if I do replace them.

I sprayed with Daconil right after the sports showed up (too late for the ones that already had it I think). Maybe that kept it from spreading? I am going to try the copper spray tomorrow.

RE: Please help, what is wrong with my tomatoes?

Also, be sure to mulch around the base of the plants. When you water the spray can hit the earth that might then splash upwards to the leaves, and that could cause problems.

RE: Please help, what is wrong with my tomatoes?

Looks like Bacterial Spot to me although there are a couple of the spots look like early Alternaria. I would treat it as B. Spot. Strip off all the affected foliage - stems and leaves - and dispose of it away from the garden. Spray with fungicide of choice.


Now dealing with herbicide damage. :(

Thanks for the input. I sprayed with a copper fungicide made by Bonide, it seems to have slowed it down. Unfortunately now I seem to have bigger problems. All of my plants are exhibiting twisted and gnarled new growth indicative of herbicide damage. :( None of my immediate neighbors have sprayed anything, and after reading about Aminopyralid I'm beginning to wonder about the straw I mulched all of them with. Really really hoping it's not that! I am hoping they put on some normal growth soon, but so far it all looks bad. I am thinking I should probably pull them all up and start over while I still can. Between the fungal/bacterial problem and now the herbicide damage, all of the plants look weak and stunted, and they are really not taking off growth wise like they should in this weather (high 80's low 90's days, mid-upper 50's night). Although if the damage is from Aminopyralid leached into the soil I guess I'm toasted for a few years. :(

RE: Please help, what is wrong with my tomatoes?

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Tue, May 15, 12 at 13:29

There could be a number of problems with the soil and possibly what you added to it. Review your source of information again for preparing your planting area and what you did. Consult a master gardener diagnostic clinic in your county. You can bring in photos, a leaf sample, etc. and talk to one of them. Usually, they're at stores or farmer's market regularly during the growing season. Search online or call your county cooperative extension office to find the schedule.

Try testing for herbicide by growing peas in 2 pots. One with clean potting soil and the other with the mulch in question. I had the same fear after reading a book in spring after using horse manure + bedding in the fall for our 1st time and ours turned out free of it.

If the herbicide is in the soil pulling up your plants and replanting won't solve the problem. The article should help you with that question.

Here is a link that might be useful: explains how to test for herbicide

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