The Q&A Archives: Leaf Curl Plus

Question: After my tomato seedlings had been set out for a week or two the new leaves that developed curled upward. The original leaves that were on the plant continue to thrive. All new growth, including the main stem on top, is gnarled, twisted, and/or curled. After another couple of weeks I planted a few more seedlings that I had been holding in reserve in another plot away from my primary garden. These plants were of course further developed and had more original leaves. They seemed to be doing well and have even produced blossoms and some small fruit but are now showing signs of the same malady. Now my peppers and eggplant are also doing the same thing. I know of no herbicides that have been applied anywhere nearby. The only fertilizers I use are bonemeal, fish emulsion.

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description it sounds like you may have a problem with tobacco mosaic virus which affects all members of the nightshade family. It is often brought in on transplants and can be transmitted by insects or by mere handling and even by cigarette smokers. You might wish to take a sample to your County Extension (644-4455) for a definite identification of the problem; in the meantime you can try spraying the infected plants (and your hands) with milk, repeating again at least once. Clean up and remove or burn any plant trash and be sure to rotate your crops carefully. In addition, look for tomato varieties labeled resistant in the future since you have had a problem with it now. I'm so sorry about your plants!

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