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Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Posted by fert1 7 SC (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 17, 05 at 23:45

Today when I went out to check my garden, I noticed that the top of one tomato plant is completely wilted and limp. The rest of the plant looks fine. All of my other plants look fine, except one has some yellowing from excess rain. The part that is wilted is green, no yellow or brown spots at all. It would look perfectly normal if it wasn't wilted. The bottom of the plant looks fine. It's just the top 12 inches or so. There are no obvious insects present. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Is there an insect or disease that would cause this? What should I look for to determine the problem? It would not be lack of water. We've had lots of rain here lately. I would expect some yellowing of leaves from excess water. I know there are various types of wilts, but it doesn't look like any of the online photos of any of them. Most of the wilts do cause some yellow or brown spots or both. Do any of the wilts start out with no other symptom but the wilting with spots showing up later?

It seems really odd that it would be the top portion of the plant. Most diseases seem to start at the bottom and work their way up.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I had a similar problem and it turne dout something had tunneled the stem....


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Is it the ALL the branches at the top or just some.

Wilting in the early stages with no change in color can sometimes indicate a systemic disease such as Fusarium or Verticillium.

But it seems to me you'd know if your soil had Fusarium, and since it's only one plant that might tend to indicate Verticillium which can affect just a single plant.

Sometimes it progresses, sometimes not.

If it were ASAP wilting of the whole plant that would be yet another story.

Wilt diseases are systemic and the foliage doesn't have spots.

Foliage diseases have spots on the leaves and wilting is not part of the picture.

Adriana says something tunneled in the stem of her plants, and she apparently found it, but that wouldn't be the most common cause of wilting just at the top, although possible, I suppose.

Carolyn


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I didn't realize there were insects that tunneled inside tomato plants, but it does remind me a lot of what my melon vines start to do once the vine borers show up each year. AdrianaG, do you know what insect did that?

Carolyn, if it is a wilt disease, what should I do? Do I need to remove only the diseased portion? The whole plant?
The plant has forked so to speak so that there are 2 main stems, and one of the forks has wilted at the top. The other one looks fine. I check my plants every day, and the wilting popped up overnight. It was not a gradual thing at all. It still looks the same today, no better, no worse. Recommendations on what I should do at this point?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Well, today more of the plant is starting to wilt. So I would have to say, it must have one of the wilt diseases. What should I do at this point? Remove the plant? How likely is it to spread to my other plants?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

So we're still talking just that same one plant?

If it is a wilt disease talking off foliage isn't going to help b;c wilt type diseases are called systemic diseases b;c the pathogen can be in any and all tissues of the plant/

Is there any change in the foliage color at all?

I'm hesitating here suggesting what you might do until it's more clear as to what wilt disease.

Look on the stems and tell me if you see any brown lesions either there or at the soil line.

This has been going on now how long and you still don't see ALL the foliage wilting?

Carolyn


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Look at the base of the plant. I had a similar circumstance which started with one plant and then the next three in the row. When I looked at the botton half inch of the plant I could see that the green tissue had been chewed off completely around the stem. Ants were the problem in my case. They had nested in the soil below the plastic. When I got rid of the ants I still had to replace the 4 tomato plants. Their replacements are doing fine.

Many tomatoes will wilt from the extreme heat we are having, but should perk up in the evening if you have adequate water. You might have a problem with water uptake by the plant or something damaging the roots. I like to dig a little around the base and try to determine: 1.Is adequate moisture(or too much) in the root zone; 2. Do perimeter roots look healthy; 3. Is the plant worth trying to save? Sometimes it is better to remove plant with roots if there is the chance that your plant is diseased.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

...calling fertl who hopefully will answer my questions. ( smile)

Carolyn


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Sorry to take so long to respond. I've been working long hours the last couple of days.

> So we're still talking just that same one plant?

Yep, so far just the one plant wilting. Although I see some yellowing one the 3 adjacent plants (toward the bottom). I suspect that is just due to all the rain though. The one plant has totally different symptoms from the other 3 that aren't thriving so to speak.

> Is there any change in the foliage color at all?

Only a little. It is still mostly green, but a few leaves have some yellow and brown starting to form, and those particular leaves have a slimy appearance as if they are starting to rot or something.

> Look on the stems and tell me if you see any brown lesions either there or at the soil line.

Will do. I haven't noticed anything as of yet, but I haven't had a lot of time lately to closely examine it either. Right now, it's too dark to see much of anything. So I will have to try to take a closer look at it tomorrow.

> This has been going on now how long and you still don't see ALL the foliage wilting?

It has been going on for about 5 days now. The affected plant still has some foliage, mostly around the bottom of the plant, that looks relatively normal. The tops of all stems/branches are pretty much all droopy and wilting now. I've never experienced this in my garden before. Could this be something introduced by an insect? All the runoff from the massive amounts of rain we've had?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I checked the stem and there are no brown lesions, at least not outwardly. I haven't cut into the stem to check the inside. The bottom portion of the plant still appears to be alive, and there are still a couple of tomatoes low on the plant that are still growing. The affected plant variety is Polish.

Should I pull up the plant?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Whatever is wrong with my plant, now seems to be spreading to other plants. The plant closest to the Polish plant is now showing some wilting. I removed some wilted sections to dissect. I didn't see any browning of the vascular system. I also didn't see any white slimy stuff oozing out. I have one cut segment in a glass of water, but so far nothing appears to be oozing out.

The one odd thing I did notice is that the affected stems appear to be hollow, at least in places. I found no insects nor any sign that an insect had been there, such as droppings. I really don't know what to make of this. Does this sound familiar to anyone?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

No, not now/

You seem to have eliminated, in one way or another:

Fusarium
Verticillium
Bacterial Wilt
Bacterial Canker
Pith Necrosis
Southern Blight

And if you'd reported distorted foliage rather than wilting, then an insect transmitted disease might be possible but you've said nothing about distorted foliage.

So unless some other symptoms appear, at this point I don't know what's going on and if others here don't either, it might be wise to contact your local Coop Ext Service.

It's possible that vascular symptoms might appear with time so that you can more properly ID something, but right now you say you see nothing.

Carolyn


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I have the same wilting happening with one plant, now spreading to others. It started around July 4th, with a very sudden onset.

Water will revive the wilt a little (we have been very dry), but the root system should be very well established since I plant 80% of the tomato plant underground, approximately 1 to 1.5 feet deep. The wilting has gotten worse, and taken over more of the plant, but not all of the plant yet.

Two of the plants are Mr. Stripey, purchased from Lowes, which makes me suspicious. My seed-started tomatoes are in another part of the garden, and haven't started to wilt. When it cools off tonight I'm going to go explore the foliage more. This is soooo frustrating...the only vegetable I REALLY want MOST is homegrown tomatoes! :(


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

One of my melon plants is showing some wilting on the growing tip. Could that be related? Are melons and tomatoes susceptible to any of the same diseases?

Should I pull up the Polish plant? The plant next to it that is showing some wilting, so far only has wilting on one branch. It does not feel hollow yet. The upper stems on the Polish plant literally feel like a straw. When a cut is made a across it, it is indeed hollow, just as it feels.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

One of my melon plants is showing some wilting on the growing tip. Could that be related? Are melons and tomatoes susceptible to any of the same diseases?

No, they don't share diseases.

What you have on the melons is wilt transmitted by cuke beetles.

fertl, as I said above I don't know specifically what the wilting is due to but if it's a systemic disease it isn't transmitted from plant to plant it's already in the soil and infects thru the roots.

C


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Update: Previously, I mentioned that I put one cut segment into a glass of water to look for anything oozing out. After several hours I couldn't see anything, but left it overnight to see what it would do. When I checked it this morning, the water was very cloudy looking.

Does this mean it is bacterial wilt? How long does it take for the water to turn milky when bacterial wilt is present? Does bacterial wilt cause hollow stems?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Curious on this. I have 2 plants planted rather close to each other and they really took off. The cages were too small to support the branches. After a storm with a lot of wind, i had to get some more stakes to tie them up/support them. The top of the newer growth is wilted. I'm hoping they will recover. I'm hoping it is just shock from the storm.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

New symptom: I am now seeing adventitious roots fairly high up on the stems of affected plants. Neither plant is completely dead as of yet. Don't adventitious roots usually point to bacterial wilt? I really don't want it to be bacterial wilt, but I'm thinking it's looking more and more like that is the case.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

After several hours I couldn't see anything, but left it overnight to see what it would do. When I checked it this morning, the water was very cloudy looking.
Does this mean it is bacterial wilt? How long does it take for the water to turn milky when bacterial wilt is present? Does bacterial wilt cause hollow stems?

A freshly cut stem that is infected should show a grayish exudate in the water within a few minutes.

Yes, Bacterial Wilt, like almost all systemic diseases can cause discoloration, then hollow stems, it is not diagnostic of Bacterial Wilt alone.

And adventitious roots, aka root primordia, are not a symptom of Bacterial Wilt.

They can be perfectly normal, they can appear as a result of stress and the only tomato disease I know of where they are known to be increased considerably and so noted, is Pith Necrosis, which is another bacterial systemic disease.

You might want to go to Google and check that one out as well, if you wish. Some of the symptoms you are seeing and some you aren't.

Carolyn


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Thanks Carolyn! Actually I've been trying to do some web research, and some sites do list adventitious roots as a symptom of bacterial wilt, which had me worried.

I had also found descriptions of pith necrosis and with the hollow stems I'm seeing, wondered if that could be the problem. One site did mention that pith necrosis starts with a wilting of the top portions of the plant, which is exactly what I've been seeing, but the suddeness of it all made me think bacterial wilt.

The more I think about it, the more hope I hold out that it isn't bacterial wilt, because I think the plants would be dead by now if it were bacterial wilt, especially the first plant affected. Apparently some plants grow out of pith necrosis. So I haven't removed the diseased plants yet. So far none of th others seem to have this problem, (knocking on wood).

For what it's worth, it's been extremely hot and extremely wet here this year. In other words, ideal breeding ground for plant diseases. One online site said that pith necrosis is often a problem in soils that have nematodes. When I pulled up my soybeans last week, the roots were very knotted, which makes me think I may have a nematode problem. Nematodes alone can cause wilting, but I don't think they would cause hollow stems.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I have been watching this thread carefully, because I too have had wilting that starts at the top and quickly moves to the rest of the plant. My symptoms, however, may have been somewhat masked by the effects of extremely hot weather and drought.

I won't take up any more of your time except to ask this question:

If the problem is a soil-borne disease, what can I do to the soil to fix it? I only have so much space in my back yard, and I want to grow tomatoes in the same spot next year. Not planting tomatoes for two or three years is completely out of the question.

FYI: Only one of my 7 Cherokee Purple plants wilted and died. The others were very productive, on 7' tall plants. My plants are caged, and about 4 feet apart. I double-dug, and used lots of compost. The compost was made from kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, and other plant, tree, and shrub waste. In spite of the drought, I watered very little. I used some fertilizer, but didn't see much difference between the fertilized and unfertilized plants.

I've observed that my oldest plants (the ones I started from seed early in the year), are the ones most likely to die first. This led me to believe that indeterminate plants have a life-span. However, Carolyn disagreed with that theory in another thread. Still, for the most part, my youngest plants are the ones that are still going strong. Perhaps an older plant is less able to fight off disease and pests.

Thanks!
John


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Just thought I'd post an update. The 1st plant that wilted still looks healthy around the bottom of the plant. The top portions completely died and shriveled up. The 2nd plant that wilted appears to be dying. So far none of the other plants are showing any symptoms.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

fert1, I am experiencing the same wilt problem as you! We are in different zones and growing different varities of tomatoes but the symptoms sounds identical. My only wrinkle is that I plant in POTS with fresh soil each year which kind of eliminates most of the soil born causes (I would think). The wilt has gotten all four of my plants (Celebrity, BetterBoy, Grape, Big Boy). Thinking is was wilt (bad soil), I planted again with plants from a different place and new soil (same brand though, new pots). Plants grew fine for the first 5-6 weeks - then the wilt started again. The root system appeared strong (it had gotten to the edges of a large pot) and there was only the normal yellowing of the lower leaves. I've grow plants in pots for the last five years and have never suffered this problem. I'll keep this posting updated as I experiment with the newly wilted plants.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Hello , My Sons plants did the same thing , Large , Dark healthy leaves , no spots etc , top of plant wilted first , this came about 3 weeks after the rain's from the hurricane, lots of blooms , an some young fruit starting , cut the stems an found them hollow , -- please see my post above on EEG CASTINGS, I pulled the plants up an broke up root ball an found the eeg castings ? I dont knowe ,, maybe check one of you sick / dead plants ,, Sorry


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Another Update: My Rose plant finally completely died of this disease. It was covered in green tomatoes that started ripening prematurely as the plant died. Since Rose is one of my favorite varieties, we went ahead and harvested the tomatoes. The skin on the tomatoes felt odd, almost leathery. Last night we decided to try one just to see if it would be edible. We cut into it and it actually looked fine. So we tasted it - absolutely delicious! We cut another one tonight, which was also quite good. We had BLT's from the Rose and also cut a Cherokee Purple. The prematurely ripened Rose was better than the CP. It says a lot for the variety that a diseased and dying plant can produce tomatoes that taste better than what I'm getting from my other healhty plants.

So other than the skin feeling odd, the fruits seem unharmed by whatever killed the plant. I just thought I would share that as another clue to what the problem might be. I'm heart broken that my Rose plant died. It was my only plant of that variety this year. Before it contracted the disease, it was the largest, healthiest, and most fruitful of all my plants, and so far best tasting too. At least it produced some fruit for me before it died. I'll just have to hope for better luck next year.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Since the plant died, I went ahead and pulled it up. The roots looked perfectly normal. The stem at the base of the plant was very brittle, and I was able to snap it in two, quite easily, even though it was pretty thick. There was a brown circle around the white core of the plant, from a cross-section. I assume that the browning is the vascular system. So at this point, I'm guessing it could be Fusarium Wilt, Ventricillium Wilt, or Pith Necrosis. Since the first infected plant is still alive at the base, and the stems have been hollow, I'm betting on Pith Necrosis. My Marianna's Peace plant that is growing right beside the dead Rose plant seems totally unaffected, and is quite robust.

Opinions?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I had the exact same experience as you fert1 ~ It started on one yellow pear, then to the next then to the next - I yanked all of them ~ I will ammend soil ; but am very curious as to what this problem may or maynot be ~ Tom


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Same problem here although I have yet to pull up the plants. Tomstrees, you mentioned ammending the soil, with what?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

  • Posted by galcho z8 Northwest (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 16, 08 at 21:46

Maybe somebody has fresh information how to fight this?
I have five tomatoes in GH, two of them started to develop wilt of very top. They recover when i water them, they fine in morning.
Any ideas what to do to save tomatoes?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease? -More Questions

  • Posted by galcho z8 Northwest (My Page) on
    Mon, Jun 16, 08 at 21:50

I have Soap Shield and wondering if i should use it to spray soil or plant?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Having a similar problem on one of 16 plants, a yellow pear. I'd love to hear what can be done to prevent the spread of whatever this is.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

  • Posted by aulani 6 E. Kansas (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 3, 08 at 16:50

Ditto for me, same problem with one plant so far, one called Black Krimm. I did some research and most of the information says to plant only wilt resistant varieties. Okay, fine for next year. What about now? This is the first time I've seen wilt in my garden and I've been gardening for years. I usually put in the wilt resistant varieties, but this year I tried many heirlooms. Black Krimm is one of those.

My country extention agent is out of the office until Monday, but they are sending me a brochure on this exact thing.

My question is how to sterilize soil, especially in a raised bed.

Galcho, what is soap shield, please?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I'm having a simlar problem which I thought was walnut wilt (my question here) but maybe not.

Oddly, cucumber plants next to the affected site are showing signs of wilt too. But tomatoes and cucumbers aren't supposed to have the same diseases.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I have a large tomato plant 2 1/2 feet high just starting to make tomatoes, nickle and quarter size, no bite marks or any outward signs, the leaves started to curl and it slumped significantly. I tied it to cage, dug on one side by the roots and have yet to find anything. It may also be a Mr. Stripey from Lowes or Home Depot. Every leaf is curled, but the plant is still green. We've had a lot of june bug grubs, I thought maybe these were eating the roots, but I didn't find any on the side I dug. I poured white vinegar dilution 5 to 1 around the plant. The plant nearby has curled leaves on the top of the plant....


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I had the exact same symptoms you described for three years in a row. Eventually the plants die. Some were able to fight through it and I did get some fruit - Kelloggs Breakfast for example is a beast of a plant in its ability to fight through adversity. Alas, after a similar exchange on this forum, I managed to forge a phone relationship with someone at Penn State's agricultural extension office (plant pathology lab) and they agreed to test my plant tissue. The tests confirmed a strain of Fusarium Wilt common in Pennsylvania. This year I put all my tomatoes in giant pots with store bought soil and compost and they have performed incredibly. With tomatoes, I found that it's really hard to rule things out through visual identification of symptoms and process of elimination. I truly belive each plant responds differently to disease and pests and it's hard to ever get the final truth as to what's wrong. I accepted the plant tissue test as fact, although who really knows. In the end, I have found a way to grow tomatoes successfully in my diseased little corner of the universe.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Just reading thru all the posts-I got five tomato plants from Lowe's in So.Cal. this spring. They never did get really big and all I got was four small tomatoes. They all wilted and died no matter what I tried. My jalapeno plants(from Lowe's) right next to them did very well and are still giving fruit in Oct. I think I'll do what I read about here and next spring plant in huge pots with store soil and mulch.Maybe pots will help keep the hornworms manageable.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I, too, have found this sudden wilting of my tomato plants. It started with one and seems to be spreading daily to the next. I have 4 cucumber plants that wilted first. Two have died. The other 2 are hobbling along, actually bearing some fruit. I've been reading all the posts above, but haven't seen any suggestions on how to combat this. One person sounded sort of hopeless about identifying what is actually going on with the tomatoes
, which then seems to leave a remedy impossible. Please post any specific information on what to do, even if it is direction to another site. Thanks!


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I found this thread when I googled tomato plant wilting at top. One of my plants was severely wilted this morning. Fearing something that might spread to the others, I pulled the plant and prepared to take it in to the county extension office. Then I realized it is Friday, and they don't accept samples on Fridays, since they would not be able to get them to VA Tech in good shape, if the local office can't diagnose the problem. My problem sounds exactly like the ones described here. The only other clue I have, which may be unrelated, is that this particular plant had some damage three weeks agonwhich looked exactly like hornworm damage, but I was unable to find any pest. Following suggestions on this thread, I cut off the top of the wilted stem and placed it in water. No cloudiness came out, and six hours later, the piece in water has recovered from the wilt, and looks great. I cut the main stem at several points, and it looked normal. I then slit the stem for about eight inches. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. I will dig up the rest of the rootball for any further clues. It is clear the top of the plant was not getting water, but I don't know why.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I've been having this problem. I've lost three yellow pear and both the Roma and Black Krims have started to go.

One thing I tried the other day after reading somewhere else about wilting was dumping a bunch of epsom salts around the bases of the plants, then watering. For some reason this seemed to help. I don't know if there's a magnesium deficiency in my soil (didn't test before planting, first year at this house) or what, but I'm going to get a few more cartons.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I've had this wilt-from-the-top problem in two or three of my plants this year and last. Both years have been chilly and damp with minimal days over 70. I thought I'd lost the plants - all heirlooms, but couldn't bear to pull them. I cut off the clearly dead leaves (interestingly enough at the bottom of the plants, though the wilt was from the top), and some fairly major "branches" that looked to be complete goners. Someone mentioned aspirin as a fungus control, so I've been spraying with about a couple of ground-up aspirin per gallon weekly, and the plants are looking to come through, as they did last year. At the same time, I add an insecticide containing spinosad and some trace minerals to the mix. Just a note - aspirin doesn't hold up in water, so it needs to be used immediately when dissolved.

The healthy bits of all plants look just great - tons of fruit coming on. Of course, none of it's ripening as it's been too cold - - - but nothing to do about that.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Problem found...and soon to be remedied.

My Tomatoes started doing this and somewhere in this thread I saw the word tunnel and investigated. My problem has been discovered, a mole in the garden which is close to the woods. All my plants having the same issue had a mole tunnel under them. Now I wait, till the mole makes a fresh run and me an the dog will be on the hunt. Usually a hose in one end flushes him out and the dog does the rest.


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

We are in NC. We've had one incident of heavy rain then lots of heat and humidity. Haven't had rain in a couple weeks but water garden every few days. What is the answer to Tomato wilt? I am seeing wilt with some heirloom seedling transplants this year. I have pulled up a couple and tossed them already. Is there an organic pest & bacterial killer or good supplement that will help revive the plant?


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

Count me among those who had a strange looking top wilted plant with curled under leaves, etc. I have yet to identify what it is exactly after looking at many pictures and reading many descriptions. Nothing quite matches up with what I've seen. I have only had this happen one other time in all my years of gardening. Whatever it is, it does not spread to other plants---not in my case anyway.

It happened again this year to two of my tomato plants that were planted in two different raised garden beds that are full of only tomato plants. The infected tomato plants (one Rutgers and one Roma) were beautiful plants at one time and growing alongside other very healthy looking tomato plants, and then BAM they were awful looking. The minute I saw it, I knew what had to be done based on my past experience of watching the deterioration of whatever this virus/disease is. I pulled the plants up by the roots and threw them in the trash. That happened over a month ago, and the other tomato plants growing in both of those beds are still very healthy, growing beautifully, and are loaded with tomatoes.

This post was edited by GeorgiaStreak on Sun, Jun 1, 14 at 18:45


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RE: Wilted tomato plant, pest or disease?

I'm another experiencing "wilted top disease." My tomato plants had been growing vigorously and producing tomatoes until one day, there was a limp branch on the tomato top. it perked up overnight, but this happened again, affecting more stems. Soon, almost the entire plant had wilted. I pulled it up and inspected the roots. All seemed well. After a week, a nearby cucumber was stricken with the same malady. One of its stems went limp. After a week or so, it stopped growing altogether. I pulled it up too. Since then, one by one, my tomato plants in that area are becoming limp, or wilted, stem by stem, for no apparent reason. I have never had problems growing tomatoes or cucumbers up till now. The only thing I did different this year was to till in some peat moss into the soil before planting. Does anyone have any insight into this problem? I would appreciate any input. Thanks.


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