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Tomato Troubles

Posted by mhiker83 8B, Sonoma Co., CA (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 21, 12 at 17:53

Hello everyone,

I am having trouble with one of my tomato plants and can't figure out what is causing it.

So here are the details:
-The plant is an organic yellow pear planted around around April 15th, problems began maybe about a month ago.
-It is one of five plants in a new raised bed (nothing planted there last year) and no other tomatoes are showing the same signs.
-All five plants are watered on an automatic drip.
-Drip had been set up for 1 hour and 15 minutes of watering every three days, but weather has been over 95 degrees F for the last week and so I bumped watering up to every other day.
-I have not treated the tomato plants nor the soil with anything except blood meal.

Hopefully that is everything that anyone would need to know to help.

Thanks in advance!!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Tomato Troubles

Here's an additional photo of the same plant...

You can see its very healthy friend to the right.

RE: Tomato Troubles


Since this was my first time hearing about blood meal I had to look it up. The blood meal is suppose to be high in nitrogen. I was wondering could this be nitrogen burn? I am new to gardening, but thought I might give you my idea on the problem. Hope your plants makes it through this.

RE: Tomato Troubles


Interesting pictures. I hope that others more knowledgeable than me will weigh in on this problem. It is curious that only one of five plants in the raised bed has been affected so far...assuming you have treated all plants equally.

Over what time frame did this problem develop (the damage looks quite advanced)? Are the stems as well as leaves affected? From the first photo, it looks as though the lower main stem may be turning dark brown or black. Is this the case?

I also garden in Sonoma County. It was your (possibly) dark stem that caught my attention. I recently had one of my tomato plants develop dark brown stems. It began with the lower main stem, travelled upward, then began to spread to adjacent stems. However, leaves were not affected.

There is more to the story, but I don't want to divert the discussion from your own situation. I hope you get more responses! I will learn from them too.


RE: Tomato Troubles

For a plant that big to have leaf damage like that it almost seems like you are getting heavy root damage on the plant. Perhaps there is a critter running amok in the root system but it is isolated to that plant. I would think any blight or disease issues whould have wiped out or at least shown themselves on the rest of your plants since you haven't removed the leaves.

I'm no expert though, just an idea.


RE: Tomato Troubles

At this point in that poor plant's life it really makes little difference exactly what the condition or cause is. The plant isn't salvageable and it really should have been pulled some time ago. So it needs to be removed from the garden ASAP in case it can spread.

Given the limitations of the picture I can tell you that the odds favor a disease but I can't determine if it is V. Wilt or Bacterial Canker or a severe advanced case of Alternaria. There just isn't nearly enough info or photo detail to go on. Nutrient deficiency and soil toxicity can be ruled out as the other plants apparently aren't affected.

Given you say none of the other plants are showing any symptoms just getting rid of the plant may be enough but if it was my garden I would also start a regular fungicide spraying program. The link below is to a diagnostic site with photos and symptom lists that you can use to compare to your plant.

The issue of why you have provided these plants with only blood meal and the issues that can lead too is a whole other discussion.


Here is a link that might be useful: TAMU Tomato Problem Solver

RE: Tomato Troubles

Thanks everyone for the comments, I appreciate them all.

New B Gardener: I doubt it is Nitrogen burn as all the plants received about the same amount. I only did a second application when the leaves began to brown in an effort to promote new foliar growth to counteract the damage. Thanks for the comment.

Jane N.Cal: The problem began maybe four to six weeks ago. I think the dark stem you are seeing is the stake. Since my cage does a good job of supporting the plant I just use one of those wimpy green plastic coated stakes and I think that is what you are seeing behind the main stem, which is browning. Thanks!

Coconut Head: I think you are right on about it being root damage, however I doubt I have a critter since I have hardware cloth on the bottom of all my raised beds. My local nursery thought it was from overwatering, but that doesn't make any sense to me since all five plants are on the same drip line and are having no issues.

DigDirt: Thank you very much for the detailed response and the link to the great site. I have only kept the plant in the bed because none of the plants around it are showing even the slightest sign of damage and I had a few volunteers in another bed, so its replacement is ready to go. Since I never have had this problem before I wanted to see what would happen so I can learn as much about it as possible. What additional information would you need to be able to give me a better idea of what you think the issue is? Also, what kind of photos would you need? My wife took several photos with her iPad, but the quality isn't very good so I can take more this weekend. I'd also be interested to hear what additives you give your tomatoes. Last night I top-dressed all my other tomato plants with bone meal, but typically blood and bone meal, coupled with high quality organic compost, is all I give them.

Thanks again everyone!!!

RE: Tomato Troubles

Tomato Russet Mites cause wilt of green leaves and brown crunchy leaves like shown. You can't see tomato Russet Mites without strong magnification. I got them last year and found ample information for identification by googleing. Seems like some of your other plants would be showing some symptoms however.

RE: Tomato Troubles

I say get it out of there! I also thought first of overwatering, but root damage of any source might look similar. If you pull it, post a picture if the roots please!

RE: Tomato Troubles

Have you checked to see if it's drip (dripper) is plugged?

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