The Tomato Saga Continues

Well, the saga of the pitiful tomato plants continues. I thought we had largely solved the problem with more careful watering and fertilization. Then I noticed that the very youngest seedlings are starting to show some of the same symptoms! These are the ones I planted on April 5th after the original seedlings were looking pitiful. Okay…this is ridiculous. I looked at the older seedlings and saw a new “symptom,” which looks kind of like leafminer damage, but not really. I looked at it under the microscope and it isn’t at all typical of leafminer.

Here are a couple other pictures:

If this pattern on the leaves was in a print fabric, I’d be all over it. Well…maybe. But I’m not thrilled that it’s on my tomato plants!

You can see that this younger seedling is starting to show some symptoms, but not nearly as severe. Grr…

Anyway, I emailed several pictures to one of our plant pathologists for her ideas. the only thing we can determine that makes any sense whatsoever is a magnesium deficiency, and even that doesn’t make much sense. Normally magnesium deficiencies only show up in more mature plants later in the growing season.

What I’m really concerned about is if there is any chance whatsoever that these plants could actually have some sort of virus that could cause problems in the garden as a whole this year. Even if it is just a nutrient deficiency, will these plants have the stamina to withstand diseases and the Kansas weather? Will they be productive?

What this all comes down to is this…should we plant these tomatoes or pitch them? I’ll present the case to the Master Gardeners for judgment tomorrow!

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 April 26, 2010, in Plant Problems & Diseases and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. A few of my tom seedlings have the yellow-spotted pattern–I am interested to find out more!

    • This is a new problem for me. I’ve never heard of anyone having this problem before, so it’s interesting that you’re seeing something similar.

      • This is my first year growing from seed, so there are a number of things I have done and may be doing that could be the culprit… The place where they live is not ideal–under lights, but upstairs by a window, and they have been through a few extreme temperature changes. (Habitat is necessary to keep away felines.)The yellow spots have been on a few of the plants for a while. Now the lower leaves of a lot of the tomatoes are wilting and falling off, yet this could be an unrelated problem. It’s funny, I actually sprayed a few with an epsom salt solution last night, but not as concentrated as you used. I’m going to try a higher concentration, but now fear my issue is instead some sort of leaf mold. Arrgh.

  2. Are they from the same seed? Maybe the seed itself was infected with something? Sounds like you need some of that fancy technology on CSI; maybe then you’d find out what’s going on.

    • We’re growing about 15 different types of tomatoes, and the seed came from 4 different seed companies. Some of the seed was left over from last year. We’ve pretty much ruled out a seed-borne disease. I do feel like I need some plant CSI!

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