Possible Fungus Problem on Tomato Plants

Asked May 1, 2013, 10:19 PM EDT

In the spring of 2011, I planted tomato plants in the ground inside my tomato cage. I have been planting in this area for several years. It is clay soil augmented with humus and top soil, and covered with landscape fabric to keep out the weeds. I used a little bit of fertilizer but not much. The area gets about 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. They all were doing quite well until the summer, and then the stems and leaves suddenly started turning brown and dried up. Then the whole plant died. It wasn't for the lack of water, because I watered them every other day during the hot, dry spells. My brother told me it was fungus in the soil that causes the plants to turn brown. Is this true? If so, what kind of fungus would do that and how do you get rid of it? If not fungus, then what would cause a plant to do that? Do you know of any fungus problems in Calvert County for 2011? Sorry, I don't have any photos since this was two years ago.

Calvert County Maryland

3 Responses

We cannot say what was wrong with your tomatoes that had problems in the spring of 2011. Your best approach would be to incorporate some well rotted organic material into your soil and plant again. If your tomatoes develop a problem this year, send us digital pictures so that the problem can be accurately diagnosed. With an accurate diagnosis, an appropriate remedy can be found. If you want to increase your chances of not having a disease, you could plant a tomato plant in a five gallon pot filled with sterile soilless potting mixture. http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG56%20IPM%20Tomatoes.pdf

I have discovered what was wrong with the plants. It is Fusarium wilt. Have you had any experience with getting rid of this fungus?

There are no cures for fusarium. Plant your tomatoes somewhere else, in pots or in soil far from the original plot. Plant cultivars that are resistant to fusarium. In the seed catalogs, cultivars with an "F" beside the name are resistant to fusarium.