Wilty Tomatoes?

With the weather turning much warmer, sunny, and dry this week, after several weeks of cooler, damp weather, it is likely that you will see some changes in your plants. Tomatoes especially, can be rather susceptible to changes. Luckily, most plants will come through the change in weather just fine. We just need to keep a closer watch on things and maybe provide a little extra water until everything is acclamated to the drier soils.

If you grow heirloom tomatoes (or if you are trying them for the first time this year), there is something else you should watch for. Certain heirloom tomatoes have what is known in common language a “wilty gene.” What this means is that a plant containing this gene undergoes water stress, it will wilt  much sooner than a common tomato. This characteristic can be caused by 3 different genes in the plant that have mutated (naturally), and then been passed on genetically. The wilty gene isn’t a problem, just annoying because you have to water slightly more often.

Wilty Cream SausageThis ‘Cream Sausage’ roma tomato is showing fairly typical symptoms of the tomato wilty gene. In my observations, it seems like Roma type tomatoes more often exhibit this problem. (This is not a scientific determination, just what I’ve experienced!) I also don’t know if this particular variety actually contains one of the mutated genes, just that it is showing that characteristic.

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on May 18, 2009, in Plant Problems & Diseases and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. plantsondeck

    Interesting, thanks! This wilty tomoto gene was not something I was familiar with but may explain why one of my plants last year was consistently thirstier than others.

    — plantsondeck

  2. plantsondeck

    Make that “tomato”!

  1. Pingback: Tomato Genetics « Plants On Deck

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