The Q&A Archives: Tomatoes yellowed and turned brown

Question: This year some of the leaves of my Celebrity VFN tomato plants yellowed and turned brown, and eventually the vine wilted and died before any fruit ripened. I took a sample of the plant to the local nursery, and they said it was fusarium wilt. Can a fusarium resistant plant still get fusarium wilt disease? Jane MacMillan Los Angeles, CA

Answer: Celebrity tomatoes are resistant to fusarium wilt races one to two. It could, however, be race three, a new strain of fusarium found in California, or fusarium crown and root rot that killed your plants, says Jay Scott, tomato breeder at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Bradenton, FloridA. Fusarium crown and root rot acts similarly to fusarium wilt the fungus clogs the vascular tissues, causing the plant to yellow and wilt. However, the vascular browning is just on stems within one foot of the soil instead of throughout the plant, says Scott. There aren't any tomato varieties resistant to fusarium wilt race three or fusarium crown and root rot, so the solution to these types of fusarium disease is soil solarization and raisingthe pH to at least 7.0 with lime, says Scott. Fusarium doesn't thrive at a neutral pH and solarization has proved effective for killing the fungal spores in the South and West, he explains. To solarize your soil, rake the infected area smooth in summer and water it well. Place a 4 mil thick clear plastic sheet tightly over the soil, seal the edges tightly and let the soil solarize for five weeks.

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