Tomato Verticillium Wilt

verticillium wilt tomato leaves

Verticillium wilt is a disease that affects many plants in the garden including cucumbers, watermelon, horseradish, and radish but it is most commonly found in members of the nightshade family which includes tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.

Causes and Symptoms

This disease will harm the plants that are grown in soil affected with the funguses named verticillium albo-atrum or verticillium dahliae.

Symptoms of an affected plant include leaves that curl up during the hottest part of the day and then reopen as the day cools down even when the plant is well watered. Soon yellow patches on the leaves appear which eventually turn completely brown and die, followed by entire branches dying.

Some of the affects this disease has on a tomato plant is that its growth will be stunted although it will continue to grow. The tomato fruits on the infected branches will begin to drop off before they are mature. The tomatoes that do remain and mature on the plant can be sunburned since there are fewer leaves on the plant to shade them.

This disease lives in the soil and feeds over the winter on the dying roots of plants that were infected the previous season. Verticillium wilt thrives in soil that remains cool for long periods of time, such as those found in the northern regions. The garden whose soil temperature remains at seventy five degrees or lower for much of the year is a prime candidate for infection.

Treatments and Control

While nothing can be done for a plant that has already been infected by verticillium wilt, precautions can be taken to prevent it in the future:

  1. Infected plants should be removed form the garden and burned instead of being put in the compost pile.

  2. Start new, disease free seedlings to avoid reintroducing verticillium wilt. Fortunately, some tomato varieties have been bred for verticillium wilt resistance, so selecting disease resistant tomato seeds is a really good idea.

  3. Practice tomato crop rotation. The crops in your garden can be rotated every year, and if verticillium wilt is a proven problem in a particular garden, susceptible plants should be planted in a different area of the garden for at least three years.

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