The Q&A Archives: Curly Top Virus

Question: I love "Heat Wave II" tomatoes and plant them from seed every season. I also plant the Italian plum tomato. Been having trouble every year for the last 5 years with "curly top virus". Hate to lose over half my plants each year. Local Ag Advisor says it comes from beet leaf hoppers carrying the virus from other plants to the tomato plants. Hate to spray with Malthion all the time. Use variety of plants that are VFNT hoping to have to contend with least desease. How can I rid my garden of "curly top Virus"? Also in your definition of "determinate" tomato plants, you mention they produce all a one time. Don't think so, as I use them all summer on kind of the heat in the high desert. Would like to try indeterminate variety but they sure take too much room in the garden.

Answer: Prevention is everything, there is no treatment. Attempts to kill all insect vectors are futile. It only takes one bite from one carrier to transmit the virus. Instead, make your tomatoes unappealing to the leafhoppers. Cover young tomatoes in the spring with a light shade. It is not necessary for the shade cloth to seal the insects out. Leaf hoppers are desert insects and like warm sunny environments, they will avoid shaded plants.
Plant tomatoes late, after the leafhopper vectors are gone - (balance the need to avoid leafhoppers with the need to achieve production before the high temperatures in the summer or before the killing frosts of winter).
Eliminate nearby host weeds and infected plants to prevent transmission and spread of the virus.
Some resistant varieties of tomatoes have been introduced, but reports of successful resistance are variable.

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