The Q&A Archives: Wilting Tomato

Question: I planted a single Beefsteak toamato plant in a small area for my daughter. Yesterday the palnt appeared to be fine but today the top main leaves and buds as well as a single leaf off of the main trunk was wilted. I snipped the wilting areas--and discovered that the main stem was hollowed and brown. The suckers are not hollow and they are a healthy green throughout. The main stem appears to be burrowed through to the base. What have I got? A worm, or larve?

Answer: You may be looking at a stalk borer. Look for an entry hole in the stem, usually there is a sort of sawdust near it or on the ground under it. Look carefully in the stem for the borer itself, and split the stem lengthwise (a sharp knife or razor knife) and kill the borer. Then match up the breaks in the stem and wrap it with tape. Water the plant very well for the next few weeks. Loosen and rewind the tape as needed to accommodate growth. In a few weeks, with luck, it will heal. You may also need to support the plant with extra ties to the stake or cage to compensate for the weakened stem. I'm sorry about your plant -- it may not make it but maybe your daughter will find the "surgery" interesting.

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