The Q&A Archives: Tomato Wilt Disease Resistant Varieties

Question: I purchased "Better Boy" tomato plants that are supposed to be VFN. When my plants reached 5-6' tall and already had large tomatoes on them, the outer edges of one plant looked as if it was wilted - as if it needed water. The soil was damp and none of the other tomato plants exhibited this. Within a few days, all the outer edges of all leaves were like that so I pulled the plant up and destroyed it. There were no nematodes on the roots. In the next few days, the same thing happened, one by one, to all my tomato plants. It seems I may have a wilt, but I purchased resistant varieties from a reputable nursery. What do you think caused this and what do I do to insure this will not happen next year?

Answer: There are three possibilities that come to mind. First, if there is a black walnut tree nearby, the toxin produced by its roots, which extend beyond its branches, can cause such symptoms.

Another possibility is that you have a strain of a wilt fungus in your soil that is not affected by your plant's resistance. You may notice tomato varieties with VF1F2N after their name. This indicates resistance to two different strains or races of the Fusarium fungus.

Next year, you should try planting the tomatoes in another location or in containers filled with a good clean growing mix. Another option is to try varieties that boast multiple strains of a wilt fungus.

A final possibility is that the plants were not the variety that they were supposed to be. You indicated the nursery was reputable. However, not all such mix-ups are intentional. There are likely several places up the line from you and your nursery where an innocent mistake could have been made.

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