The Q&A Archives: Curly Top On Tomatoes

Question: This years tomatoes are producing flowers, and so far look healthy. However, they all have curled leaves at the top of the plants. Should I be concerned? Is this "curly top" a symptom of something going wrong in my garden?
Thank You,
Boise, Idaho

Answer: Have you checked the leaves for the presence of aphids? If there's a heavy infestation of aphids, which prefer new growth, they can stunt leaves and stems without killing the plants. You can control aphids with many organic insecticides, from neem oil to insecticidal soap. Or, you can spray them off with a strong blast from your garden hose, and follow up with application of a repellent such as neem or garlic spray. Feed your plants mild fertilizer, since aphids are most attracted to overfed and unhealthy plants.

Curly top is a virus, spread by leafhoppers. If your plants continue to grow and bear fruit, it's not likely they have this disease. However, if the plants yellow and die, it could be curly top. To avoid it in the future, cover your plants with floating row cover to prevent leafhoppers from feeding.

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