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Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

Posted by sklett 9b (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 30, 11 at 13:32

(I'm posting this here because the "Pests and Disease" forum seems a bit of a ghost town...)

When the first plant exhibited the strange yellowing and "sticky", almost translucent appearance I just chopped it off and threw it away. Figured it was a fluke and didn't want to worry about it too much. But now I just chopped another one down over 50' away from the first one and I'm now concerned.

It's difficult to explain, but when you look at it it looks like the stem and branches would be sticky or soft but they aren't. I can't see ANY insect pests (go ladybugs!) on them and there is no spotting on the leaves.

Here are some pictures of the one I just pulled:

I appreciate any advice or suggestions you may be able to offer.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem


I will try to help. First, I could see you have done some pruning. This last spring, I had success with both pruned and unpruned plants. However, pruning plants opens up a service station for pests with disease. I know that you mentioned not seeing any insects or pests, but I have a hard time believing my own eyes sometimes.

Secondly, if in fact you are correct, and there are no above-ground factors, then I would conclude that the problem may in fact be in your soil. Maybe sacrifice a plant or the 2 you have already pulled, and investigate the root system.

Although after saying this, I have had numerous plants that have looked WAY worse than that. When I plant tomato patches, I tend to let nature,good or bad, take it's course.(to a point, where I can look at a plant beyond a doubt that it is surely sick. This rarely happens before fruit set)

You asked for feedback, and I will nutshell mine to you. Give your plants some more time, and let them either fix themselves, or get sicker. Because I believe,at this point anyway, you are jumping the gun.

Take care,

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

looks like early potato virus.

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

yellow spots on leaves. diseased

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

Bad news, I've noticed 4 more plants (in very different areas/beds) that are exhibiting the early stages of this same problem. I have a total of 56 tomatoes and I can just feel it that I'm going to lose most of them :0( This is my first year growing more than 2 plants, not a good start!

@springlift34: I hear you on the "just chill and wait", in fact I blogged about that exact thing a couple days ago ( I'm trying to look at the bright side and treat this years crops as a learning experience. If pruning turns out to be a bad idea then I won't repeat that mistake. It's such a bummer to work so hard getting the soil ready, raising the seedlings, etc. just to see them knocked down, one by one.

@terrybull: I did some google image searching and didn't find many pictures that looked like what I have with my plants. Maybe I need to let mine get worse before I will see the similarity

I took several more pics in case it helps anyone give additional guidance. At this point I'm in a holding pattern waiting to learn more about what I'm dealing with. Once it's identified I can research if there are any solutions/treatments or if I should just pull them all out and do a cover crop and wait for next year?

This next one is one that I'm going to leave in the ground and photo each day to document it's demise, or hopefully, recovery. It doesn't appear sick from the photo, I'm finding it challenging to capture the sick appearance with my camera. However if you look at the stem color in relation to the darker leaf color you can see that it's pale and yellow...

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

hmm, I've got some leaf rolls/curls too.
temps/water regimen?

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

@Tonio - I'm less concerned with the leaf roll then the yellowing, translucency of the stems and branches. The leaf roll bugs me too though, they all kinda of look crappy.

I water twice a week with a drip system. The first couple inches of soil are quite dry, but once you start going deeper than that it becomes increasingly moist, but not soaked.

Temps have been 75-84 last 3-4 days, supposed to be warming a bit over the next 3-4 days. No rain, no wind. Nights around 62-66.

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

Hey sklett,

What about that underground investigation of the roots. Also, besides the wait and see, which is the easiest method, you could also try another method.

This would be to grab some 18-21-21 fertilizer, and feed every 7 days for a few weeks. I used Miracle-Gro last year on a few plants that did not look very well. In the end, they still did not look very good. However, the excess nitrogen along with no further pruning, enabled me to at least grab 10-15 tomatoes off these plants.

I am a newcomer to tomatoes myself. So, I like to grow as organic as possible. But at the same time, I do not let that premise get in the way of my garden. It is after all,my garden.

Try a heavy feeding,for a few weeks, specifically with nitrogen, to encourage new growth. Do not prune. This will allow you to possibly study new growth and help determine your mystery. Also, by feeding heavy you may also outrun your problem to the point where you may at least have a decent harvest.

Tomatoes really love to eat. Especially after they are established, and less pruning would mean more foliage,which leads to more energy consumed, which leads to more root hunger, which leads to you maybe considering to feed the hell out of them.

Keep in mind that this will result in leaning towers of plants. This is all good to me. My patch to this date has always ended up a crapshoot. Chairs, plastic bags, anything to hold up the excess. So, if cosmetics and order is an important thing, then I might ignore my own advice.

But if tomatoes are your goal, then my advice may be something to consider.

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

Bacterial Wilt:

Bacterial wilt is caused by Ralstonia solanacearum, which enters the tomato plants roots through wounds made by insects, or natural wounds that occur where secondary roots begin to grow. The disease grows most easily in a warm and moist environment. Once inside the tomato plant the bacteria multiplies quickly and fills the plant with slime. This leads to the wilting of the plant, but the leaves remain green.

Cure: Bacterial wilt is very hard to control as the bacteria can survive in the soil for several seasons. Make sure you remove any infected tomato plants and the soil the tomatoes touched if possible. Crop rotation has been known to help, especially with plants that aren't affected by the bacteria such as beans, cabbage, and corn.

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

What the hell man? Give the plants a shot! Seriously, this may be the case, but at least try and defeat the monster. Btw, this monster is still a mystery, right? FEED!

I will never give up on a plant until I give myself the time to kill it or help it,based on subjective reasoning.

Like humans, who may be sick, there are weeks or months that they may feel horrible, but then out of the blue, things get better.

Not everything is scientific. If it was, then everything would be explained. Look at this board. Look at this post.

Terrybull makes a good point. And there is a chance,maybe more than a chance that it is the truth. But this is YOUR GARDEN.

Do not give up on these plants, even though they may be diseased. Feed and look at the new growth, whatever it may bring.

Things never end up as bad as we think they might become.History proves it. We still breathe. And your plants do to.

Think of your plants as sick. Now, what are you going to DO about it?

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

Your photos remind me of some pics I've seen of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (link below). You could probably google that and get a lot more information.

I don't want to jump to a conclusion on that, but the first and second photo -- the ones with the bronze-ish cast to the leaves -- would lead you to consider that possibility.

I hate suggesting bad news. Please consider all other options first.

Here is a link that might be useful: TSWV Info

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem


Most all of my tomatoes raised from seed this year had this problem. They were fine for a while then the growing tips turned bronze one by one and leaves and flowers dessicated and dropped daily. Most grew (some large) but most never developed fruit.

After internet research, I decided it was TSWV. From what I read, the plant is infected until it dies-no cure. I gave them a chance for a while but last week I pulled them all (30+). Ouch.

I believe mine were infected as seedlings by thrips from overwintered plants nearby. Apparently, some ornamentals can also harbor the disease.

I'll plant some store bought hybrids for a late harvest.

Sorry I have nothing positive to offer.


RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

Check out this disease id link,could be bacterial wilt

Here is a link that might be useful: Disease Id for Tomato

RE: Second plant chopped down due to mystery problem

TSWV, from what I have read effects the new growth first. Bronzing is typically seen on the growing tip. From the pictures, It looks like there are no hairs left on the effected stems, is this correct? Symptom of Tomato Russet Mite. If the bronzing is starting lower, and working its way up, killing one branch and then moving on to the next I would google Tomato Russet Mite. Can't see it without heavy magnification but you can see the damage, bronzing and lightened leaves, stems that die. I dont see where you are located, Tom RM is fairly common in CA, but apparently other parts of the country also. I have it on most of my plants currently. Diagnosed it after reading one of Raybos posts on the same subject. Linda

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