The Q&A Archives: Causes

Question: For the last several years my tomato plants get brown spots on the lower leaves, then they go from yellow to brown to dead.This spreads up to the top of the plant eventualy killing the entire plant.I have rotated the location each year and I try to cutoff and burn the infected portions of the plant. Last year I tried a mulch of newspaper and straw to keep the lower leaves from touching the ground and I still had the same problem. I have also tried spraying the leaves with liquid copper and that seemed to delay the problem for awhile but the plants still died. Thanks for any help you can give me. Roy Shoemaker Fairview Heights, IL

Answer: It cound be that vertilcilium wilt has settled into your garden. Once it gets into the soil it can last for years. Cut the stem of the tomato to see if it is discolored to brown inside. If so them wilt is the culprit. Growing new plants or seeds that are verticillium and fusarium wilt resistant in new raised beds or containers with new clean soil for a few years is one solution. You should make sure that all old vegetation has been cleared and burned. The other possibility is early blight, but the copper should have controlled that as long as you sprayed early enough in the season. I'd say try some new varieties such as 'Celebrity' and 'Big Beef' with added wilt resistance.

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