Gibson Priest

Gibson Priest

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable in the garden and here are some of the problems that you can find with them.

FAILURE TO SET FRUIT: Every year gardeners have tomato’s that flower, but do not set fruit. This can be caused by abnormally hot weather, low soil moisture, excessive shading or over-fertilizing. Be sure to mulch your tomatoes and keep them from environmental stresses.

BLOSSOM-END ROT: This disorder causes the fruit to have a dark, sunken area on the blossom end. This can be prevented by adding a cup of Dolomitic lime mixed with soil to your tomato planting hole.

Maintaining a good even soil moisture at all times by adding mulch can prevent blossom-end rot. Mulches are helpful for their ability to moderate soil moisture fluctuations as well as to eliminate the need for cultivation. A soil test in advance of planting may pinpoint a soil pH problem.

MOSAIC DISEASES: There are several viruses that will produce mottling and curling of leaves and disfiguration of the fruit: These diseases are spread by insects, animals and humans.

Aphids are the chief insect vectors and should be controlled by using insecticides. Animals and humans can also carry this disease from one plant to another. Do not allow anyone to smoke in your garden. Smokers should always wash their hands before touching the plants. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) can be spread from many plants to tomatoes.

WILTS: Fusarium and Verticillium can cause early dying of tomatoes. These diseases cause the plant to wilt even with good moisture. If you cut the stem of the plant the vascular or conducting tissue will be discolored. Both of these wilts are soil borne and widespread throughout the south.

These wilts can infect potatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, and many other vegetables and some ornamentals. The only solution is to use resistant varieties.

LEAF ROLL: This disorder is characterized by upward rolling of tomato leaflets on older leaves. Leaf roll has been associated with a specific gene (wilt gene). Symptoms are usually seen when plants have a heavy fruit load. Environmental factors that contribute to this disorder are high temperature, drought and periods of wet soil conditions.

BLIGHTS AND OTHER FUNGUS DISEASES: There are a number of fungi that are important on tomatoes. Most of these can be controlled by regular sprays of recommended fungicides (Daconil, Maneb and Mancozeb). For early and late blights, anthracnose and fruit rots, use a fungicide once a week when the disease first appears.

Next week we will discuss insects that can harm your tomatoes! GOOD LUCK!

If you have any questions regarding tomatoes or other gardening topics, you are welcome to contact the extension office at 770-749-2142 or email

For more information and details on upcoming events, check out the Polk County Extension office on Facebook by searching “UGA Extension Polk County.”

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