Know Your Tomatoes


Photo by Paul Goebel

As the tomato plants start to show fruit, I always keep an eye out for any problems…seems I’m not alone. K-State’s experts are sharing a short video about issues. You can watch or read the transcript.(call me crazy, but I like to do both!)

Here’s the video link with transcript below;

Common Tomato Problems, Part 1

What’s actually happening is something very common that we call physiological leaf curl or leaf roll. It’s not getting enough water, or perhaps it’s getting too much water – and the roots can’t grow. So, when you see your leaves curl, it usually just means that the weather has changed, and the plant is undergoing some stress. Your plant will be fine, just give it a little time, and make sure you’re taking good care of it.

This tomato plant is also showing a very common fruit disorder called blossom end rot. It’s caused by improper watering. So, if you keep your soil evenly moist around your tomato plants, then your problems with blossom end rot should go away.

This next problem is what we call 2,4-D or phenoxy injury. It’s an herbicide injury. If you, or your neighbor, were spraying a broadleaf killer on your lawn, the herbicide or weed killer will get into the air and blow onto your tomato plants. The real characteristic injury for the herbicide injury is that the leaves are curled in on themselves. And they develop a webbed look.

Next, is a fungal disease called Septoria leaf spot. It’s characterized by tiny, brown spots all over the leaves. Usually the leaves will start turning yellow. It usually starts at the bottom of the plant, and works its way towards the top. It’s usually caused by warm temperatures, and high humidity. Kansas has lots of this type of weather in the average summer.

Another common tomato problem that you may see in Kansas is spider mites. They leave a characteristic stippling look on the leaves.

Fruit worms are also known as corn earworms. If you see worms in your sweet corn, the same caterpillar can attack your tomato plants. They’ll just bore into the fruit, leaving a small hole in the tomato.

These are several of the common tomato problems you may see in Kansas, but there are a number of others. So, if you want more information on controlling these problems, or if you think you may have another problem, please contact your local extension office for more information, or visit our website.

This feature story prepared with Rebecca McMahon, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County.

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