The tomato plant, although sometimes perceived as a vegetable, is actually a fruit and originates from South America. Today there are all kinds of different varieties of tomatoes and they are grown all over the world. Most tomatoes are grown today in Southern Europe, Asia, and the United states but with the right set up you can grow this popular garden fruit just about anywhere. However as with any plant there are certain diseases you should know about when growing tomato plants. In this article we will talk about the tomato disease known as verticillium wilt and what you can to help prevent it from attacking your plants.
What is Verticillium wilt?
Verticillium wilt is a disease that is caused by a fungus. It affects hundreds of different species of plants but some plants are immune such as ferns. Luckily the fungus is harmless to humans. The fungus lives in the soil and attacks plants with particularly stressed roots. The symptoms of verticillium wilt in tomato plants can be seen in the leaves. A tomato plant’s leaves will wilt die, and fall off, and as the fungus progress the plant will become stunted and the tomato fruit will have yellow shoulders. The wilting and spotting of the tomato’s leaves is caused by a toxin that the fungus produces. To diagnose if your tomato plant has verticillium wilt make a vertical slice on the main stem just above the soil. If you see a brown color tissue under the bark this discoloration can mean your plant has the fungus. Unlike other fungi that attack tomato plants the Verticillium wilt fungus is unique in the sense that it rarely extends more than a foot up from the soil.
What you can do to prevent Verticillium wilt.
As with most problems the best way to treat Verticillium wilt is to prevent it from happening in the first place. There still is no sure way to directly treat this fungus. Here are some tips to help protect your plant against the fungus.
• Grow varieties that are more resistant and hardy.
• Avoid damaging or stressing the tomato plant roots or stem.
• Remove any plants in the area that have Verticillium wilt as soon as you spot it to prevent it from spreading to other plants.
• Use fertilizers higher in potassium and lower in nitrogen.
• Make sure to thoroughly clean tools when working on infected plants to prevent it from spreading.
• Wait a few years to plant in a spot of soil where a plant became infected by the fungus.