Fusarium Wilt on Tomatoes

We have a few heirloom tomato varieties out in the Demo Garden this year, and they are a challenge to grow. I am finding that they are particularly challenging in Kansas, compared to other areas. I am also discovering that the raised beds in the Demo Garden have been contaminated with some nasty things over the years. (Nasty to the plants, that is.) The bed that is home to the cherry tomatoes has nematodes. Now I have discovered that the bed containing the Roma Tomatoes has Fusarium Wilt. Fusarium Wilt is a soil-borne fungus that is quite detrimental to tomatoes, and the only way to control it is by using various cultural practices.

Fusarium Wilted TomatoThe poor Purple Russian tomato is the one to succumb to the disease. This wilting with the “shepherd’s crook” appearance is very characteristic of the disease. After cutting off this stalk, it showed a streaky brown color when the stem was scratched. I don’t know how this raised bed got the disease!

Cultural Controls for Preventing Fusarium Wilt:

  • Rotate planting locations (4-6 years between planting in the same spot)
  • Use resistant varieties

Obviously, with heirloom tomatoes it is difficult to find guaranteed disease resistance. There is a new method for grafting heirloom tomatoes onto highly disease resistant rootstocks that I am anxious to try…next year. So I guess you will have to wait until next year to see how that project goes!

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 July 20, 2009, in Plant Problems & Diseases and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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