Tomato Fusarium Wilt

tomato fusarium wilt

Fusarium wilt disease has been reported in over 30 countries. It usually affects tomatoes in southern areas of the US and Europe. In more nothern, colder climates it is usually limited by low temperatures but it can wipe out greenhouse populations entirely. Luckily, you can take action to control and even prevent this dreadful disease.

Causes and Symptoms

Fusarium wilt in tomatoes is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. Lycopersici, which is soil borne and can survive indefinitely without any host. Most occurrances are associated with infected tomato debris left in the soil.

An infected tomato will begin yellowing on the bottom leaves. The yellowing will begin on one side of the leaf, shoot, or branch and then slowly spread out and up the vine. The vines will brown along the veins and eventually wilt permanently, resulting in a stunted plant. If the plant doesn’t die altoghether, it will be weak and produce inferior tomatoes.

Treatments and Control

There are a number of control measures that can be taken when dealing with a fusarium wilt.

  • One of the best ways to control this disease is to plant resistant varieties. These varietals are denoted with an “F” on the package or plants. Remember that resistant does not mean it will never get the disease, it is just much less likely.

  • Commercial growers sometimes steam or fumigate the soil to kill any fungus living there. For a home gardener, raising the pH of the soil to 6.5 – 7.0 can be just as effective as fumigation.

  • Use a nitrate-based nitrogen fertilizer, such as calcium nitrate, rather than an ammonia-based nitrogen fertilizer. This will help control the pathogen best.

  • A heavy mulch layer will keep the soil temperature low which can slow fungus growth. Keeping tomato plants weed-free will also help, since many weeds are hosts.

  • Rotate your crops! This won’t eliminate the disease completely, but it can help reduce losses. Be sure not to plant your tomatoes in the same spot more than once every four years.

  • For both home and commercial growers the utmost concern is cleanliness. Innoculum can spread through infected stakes, seeds, soil, equipment, tools, shoes, clothing, and even hands. Making sure to start your own seedlings in a fungus-free, sterile environment can go a long way in controlling infection.

Comments from Other Gardeners
  • happychicken says:

    Last year we had back to back tropical storms in North Florida. As my beautiful crop of tomatoes began to sicken and die, I took a sample to my local extension office and they told me that it was most likely fusarium wilt and to destroy the infected plants immediately or it would spread. They also recommended that I “solarize” the soil in that bed by covering it with plastic for 2 months. Having done that, I am still not planting tomatoes or any other night shade in that sot this year.

  • Suleiman mutuli says:

    there is a serious a prolem with farmers growing tomatoes to distinguish between the fusarium wilt and bacterial wilt and their respective control measures. ( fusarium wilt its main symptom is yellowing of the leaves and then wilts off while the bacterial wilt is the wilting of the leaves while still green)

  • lori says:

    last year I put my old tomatoes and vines in my compost compost had many volunteer tomatoes in the spring.then my current years tomatoes got fusarium.I wonder if my compost was the cause..sort of like planting tomatos in the same soil in consecutive years.

  • Bua Paul says:

    will it be a good idea to rotate planting tomatoes in bags but on the same spot?

  • Chéz Süz says:

    The tomato trimmings from cooking get composted-not any plants. All that I grow are volunteers. This year was the worst for wilt and spider mites. I can only grow in containers and do reuse the soil, amending it with time release fertilizer, water holding crystals, peat and a microrhizza enhanced potting mix. Seems like the in ground asparagus along with the potted ones are also infected. I’m going to try solarization, which means losing all the asparagus and greatly reduced tomato yield. So sad, such a great loss from such a small patch .

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