The Q&A Archives: Tomato stem base diseased

Question: My Burpee Big Boy F1 hybrid tomato plant's stem looks like it has worms or fungus growing underneath the first layer of skin. The closest branches are drooping and dying and the rest of the leaves are beginning to have white tips. What have I done wrong? Please let me know what to do.

Answer: These symptoms may indicate a fusarium wilt infection, but I can't say for sure. You can verify the problem by cutting off the wilted, dying branch, and seeing if there's a brown ring of tissue under the outer skin of the stem. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to save an infected plant - it will eventually die. You can avoid fusarium problems in the future by planting resistant varieties of plants (Burpee's 'Better Boy' and 'Big Girl' tomatoes are two to try), planting them in well drained soil that is high in organic matter content (humus), is free of nematodes and hasn't had a history of fusarium problems. There's still time to replant and enjoy tomatoes this summer - good luck!

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