Tomato plants died midsummer 2012

Asked December 27, 2012, 1:31 PM EST

Last year (2011) we lost one tomato plant and pulled it up by the roots and disposed of it. This year on 4 plants the fruit set and then one by one the plants turned brown and had to be destroyed. We got no production this year in 2012. I suspect some kind of fungal disease is present in the soil. Do you have a suggestion?

Jefferson County Colorado

1 Response

1. A soil test done by the CSU Soil Lab or another local lab may be useful. While a soil test cannot determine what types of fungi are in the soil, it may give you an indication of what is wrong with the soil, if anything. For example, a high level of salts (salinity) in the soil can damage roots of tomatoes, resulting in browning of leaves. High salts could result from using too much fertilizer or too much manure in the soil. See Horticultural Applications for Gardeners at

2. Try to grow tomato plants in a different area of the garden in 2013. IF soil-borne disease is the problem, moving tomato plants to another part of the garden will help. Where tomatoes grew in 2012, grow anything other than tomatoes or relatives eggplant, peppers, potatoes, tomatillos .

3. Try growing tomato plants with multiple disease resistance - the letters/abbreviations after the tomato name indicate that variety has some resistance to disease. For example, the letters VFATTSWV after a tomato variety name indicates it has some resistance (NOT immunity) to several common tomato diseases.

4. Avoid watering tomatoes with overhead irrigation, which promotes foliar diseases. Ideally, apply water at the soil level, for example with drip irrigation.

5. Ensure that soil for tomatoes is loose and well-drained. Compacted clayey soils often result in root rots and in turn, poor tomato production. Adding sand to a clayey soil usually backfires. Better to add organic materials to the soil to amend and loosen it.

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