Tomato Problem

Asked July 9, 2015, 3:02 PM EDT

The foliage & flowers are small and wilting. What is this and how can I fix it?

St. Joseph County Michigan

3 Responses

This is not a disease or an insect.

It looks like herbicide damage, specifically 2,4D. This is a broadleaf weed killer put into many lawn weed killers. An extremely small dose causes leaves and stems to twist, pigtail, curl and become thickened and distorted.

It was not a direct application. It could have been applied to a lawn in warm weather and some of the 2,4D volatilized and floated to the garden. It could be at the neighbor's house or you could handle an unopened bag of lawn herbicide and just put your hands on the tomato plants.

Tomatoes are extremely sensitive to herbicides. 2,4D damage looks like what you have and glyphosate damage (another herbicide with glyphosate) looks very different.

There is nothing to do except wait and see how much is damaged. And try to find the source of how 2,4D came to the tomatoes. If it was only a light does, new growth will return to normal. If it was more, the plants may decline and stop growing.

I did spray a heavy concentration of glyphosate about 2-3 ft. from the row. I thought 2-3 ft. was enough setback, but it appears the plants may have incurred some light drift, just enough to mess them up a bit. Now that I think about it, the problem did start showing up a few days after the spay application, so I'd say your diagnosis definitely makes sense! Very helpful!

Thank you very much!

Good luck. Tomatoes and any kind of pesticide, even in miniscule doses, are bad news for the tomatoes.