The Q&A Archives: Tomatoes Plants Wilt and Turn Yellow

Question: I started two heirloom tomatoes, Super Italian Paste and Roma VT this year. It is late July and my Super Italian Paste are starting to wilt at the top, the leaves are turning yellow, and then the plant dies. I have started clipping off the yellow leaves (trying to stop the inevitable). The Roma tomatoes are fine, but they are short (just about 2ft.) but have a lot of fruit. The problem does not seem to affect them.

Answer: It sounds like your Super Italian Paste tomatoes are suffering from Fusarium wilt, a fungal disease that chokes the vessels in the plant stem and prevent moisture and food from moving through the plant. Roma VF is resistant to both verticillium and fusarium wilts (hence the 'VF' at the end of the name). Unfortunately, once the disease sets in, there's nothing you can do to cure your plants. The good news is that you've stumbled upon the answer to your question -- how to avoid this problem in the future -- just plant resistant varities! It also helps to add lots of compost to your soil each year, and to rotate your crops through the garden year to year.

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