Fusarium Wilt in My Tomatoes?

Good morning my friends. How is everyone this morning? We hope all are fine and ready to get started this morning.

I’ve got a problem, and you are all probably asking, “What else is new, aren’t ya?” Well, as you know we’ve had our gardens here in central Florida planted now for the last several weeks. We’ve been getting banana peppers, some gypsy peppers, a bell pepper or two, and the cukes are fixing to start rolling in as well.

Our tomatoes are just loaded, and we ought to have some of them ripening just any day now. I’ve said this before but I can’t emphasize enough how badly I want that first of the year…tomato sandwich! I love them darn things.

Bonnie commented the other day she likes her fried green tomatoes, and starts with them first. I like to get a few ripe ones first, then turn into some green tomatoes, after having some ripe ones. She says…it’s a difference of opinion, and I have to agree.

Well, after the last few days, it looks as if I may in fact be eating some green ones fried first!

About a week ago, I went out to the raised beds, as those mothers are going to be giving me some tomatoes first, as they were planted two to three weeks prior to the garden tomatoes.

Well, I get to looking, and there’s a plant wilting, and then another. It looks JUST like a lack of water wilt, but it’s not. We water those jewels about once a week, and when I first noticed it, was about a week after the last watering, so…I watered them and told Deb, we need to watch a little closer, there were two plants in a wilt…

The next day, the same thing, but even more of the plant was in a wilt. We both knew then that we had some type of bug for sure, but probably some type of disease.

So, now I’m beginning to wonder at this point, if there’ll even be a dern tomato sandwich, at least in the next week or so anyway! If we lose the plants, those three infected at the least, then I’ll have some fried, like it or not.

So, here’s my question. There’s really NO yellowing in the first stages of this, and very little through the cycle.

None have died, and amazingly, there is still SOME, though not much, good growth on these plants?? Also this is not something that gets into the plant and boom, it’s done with, but actually it tries to make a comeback?? I don’t understand.

From what I’ve read, I believe this to be Fusarium Wilt.

Just Starting

Two plants in heavy wilt

Well, that’s what this is doing to the tomatoes. If you have any suggestions, please advise. This is baffling me, but I believe it to be either Fusarium Wilt, or Verticillium Wilt. We’ll discuss both.

Fusarium Wilt and Verticillum Wilt are caused by fungi that enter the plants through the roots and travel up. They travel through the water vessels in the plant, thus restricting water to the leaves, by blocking and clogging the water vessels themselves.

Both are a soil-borne fungus that may persist in the soil for years. So, they claim crop rotation, and resistant varieties to these strains of wilt in your vegetable selection will help.

I wonder though, if after harvest you could till the soil heavily, turning the bottom dirt to the sun on occasion and bleaching it, and then by treating the soil with a type of fungicide, if you could resolve the problem.

The reason I ask this, is that this wilt is showing up in our raised bed garden. This was topsoil that was trucked in to our place and used to fill the beds. So evidently we brought this soil-borne fungus in, and it wasn’t in our native soil. Leave it to Dub, and his BRIGHT ideas!

The variety of tomatoes in our raised bed is Better Boys.

In the Fusarium strain, wilting can appear at the top of the plant first and this was the case in our tomatoes. This is why I thought it to be just a dry, needing water wilt, as the wilt was in the top, in the pushing new growth. They claim this may continue until the plant dies, but this is not always the case.

So, I’m just guessing, but I don’t think it spreads from plant to plant, just starts from the soil. But, they do say to destroy infected plants after harvest. Don’t worry, I fully intend to!

The plants may recover, but even if they do the plant will never be what it should be, and the fruit will be small and of low quality.

They also claim that in many cases a single shoot, or a single side of the plant may wilt first. Again the top of our plants started the wilt first, and one of them did have the single side wilt happen, as well as the top wilt.

The Fusarium Wilt is caused by not just one but several different types of the fungus, Fusarium oxysporum. This wilt will also get into potatoes, peppers and eggplants.

And, further reading answered part of my question about ridding the soil of this fungus, as Ohio State University says soil fumigation will work. I’d thought about this as well, because I remember back working in the orange groves, 30 years ago or better, we used to fumigate all our new tree beds, before planting the resets.

It was a small can of some type of gas, about the size of a coke can. It was mounted onto a stem tube which was run into the ground. The can set on top of the tube in a holder which held the can in place. You latched the tube into its holder, and a hole was punched into the bottom of the can, and the gas released down the tube, into the soil. This was done to kill citrus nematodes.

I’m going to cut a couple stalks tomorrow. The Fusarium Wilt has dark brown vascular discolorations, while the Verticillium Wilt causes a lighter tan, discoloration.

Both can be controlled somewhat, but not cured by spraying with copper or sulfur. There is a fungicide, Serenade that can be used. I may contact Robbie, who takes care of a good friend’s orange grove and see if he can get me a couple quarts to have on hand.

The Verticillium Wilt is similar to the Fusarium Wilt, but it causes the bottom leaves of the plant to become pale and forms V-shaped lesions, which we haven’t noticed on our plants. The plants infected by this also may survive the season, but with the same results. Stunted plants, decreased yield, and small fruit.

One thing I’ve noticed, and it’s only on two tomato plants in the garden, is what looks like, Septoria Leafspot.

This is tiny areas on the leaves, all at the very bottom of these two plants, and these have dark spots on them. They say this shows up on the older leaves first, which I’m assuming is why it is showing up along the very bottom leaves. There is yellowing of the leaves as well.

I will be getting some type of fungicide today without a doubt.

I’ll keep you guys informed. If any of you have experienced any of this, or know of any help you may can offer, please step up, and let us know!
Thank you all once again for coming, and God Bless.

Dub and Deb

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3 Responses to Fusarium Wilt in My Tomatoes?

  1. Roger Walling says:

    Copper sulfate is the trick for defeating the fungi but be careful with the application as is can harm humans if applied to strongly and be sure to wash your fruit very very well before deciding to eat them. Read up on the dossage needed to achieve the results you’re looking for and make the application well before harvest time so that it has a chance to dilute with the rains. The fungi growth can be a result of heredity with tomatoe plants that’s carried forward every year if tomatoes are grown in the same conditions in the same beds as previously infected crops. Burning the remains of the plants and other dried vegetative residue after the season is healthy for your garden area and adds ash to the soil. till it in and throw in any old crushed egg shells (calcium) and pelletd lime to sweeten the soil and lower the PH content to around 7%. Lime allows the fertilizer to work better. If a measureable amount of animal manure is being used every year it should be dried seasoned manure instead of wet and raw manure. Acidity can build up with to much animal manure so the regular use of lime will allow the breakdown of the manure to progress to where the nitrogen level of the soil is very attractive to your plants. A dried Copper Sulfate mixed up and put into a pump up sprayer makes the application trick easy. Application about an hour after a light rain is the perfect time and it’s best before the fruit blooms start to come on.
    Any way, Happy Gardening! and I’m glad you guys are doing well with the bee’s. before you know it you’ll be a bee charmer! ;>)

  2. Rick Blucas says:

    Another good thing to do is to apply a thin layer of mulch around your plants. . . .this can keep the dirt from being splashed up on the leaves during watering or rain, and help lessen the exposure to soil-borne diseases. Also try plants that are disease resistant. Rotate your crops as much as possible.

  3. Swemson says:

    After trying about 20 different varieties of tomatoes in my garden, I’ve found one that’s the best by far. It’s the “Goliath”, which can be found in several sub-varieties including Bush Goliath & Goliath Hybrid. This plant is very distinctive, in that it’s big & sturdy, with a stalk that’s 2 to 3 times as thick as others, and far bigger leaves as well. It also produces really large tomatoes. Last year I had several that weighed over a pound.

    But the big thing is the flavor of these huge tomatoes. Nothing even comes close. When fully ripe, they’re a deep red in color, but as they get fully ripe on the plant they become somewhat fragile and susceptible to splitting from extreme heat in warmer climates. You can avoid this by picking them a few days before they turn 100% red. Another way to prevent this is keeping the plants covered with a highly porous piece of burlap, and if you can keep a misting system over them, to keep the burlap moist (1 minute of spray every 15 minutes is good), you’ll get terrific results.

    Try the following once you grow some of these beauties: Put a little Paul Newman’s Light Balsamic Vinaigrette in a large flat container, and then cut several humongous thick slices and lay them flat inside. Cut some thin slices of purple onion to put over the tomato slices, and drizzle a bit of the Balsamic Vinaigrette on top of each. Sprinkle lightly with grated parmesan cheese & salt & pepper to taste. Serve the slices as sides on a dinner plate or by themselves as appetizers or in place of a salad. Cut them in quarters with a sharp knife.


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