Tomatoes are the most popular fruit or vegetable of home gardeners. But, looking after tomato plants can be troublesome. Tomato plants can be afflicted by a variety of different pathogens (infectious agents, germs, and diseases). Additionally, tomatoes can be afflicted with non-pathogenic disorders caused by poor growing conditions.
Often times, people mistakenly diagnose non-pathogenic disorders as a pest infestation or tomato disease. They apply harmful pesticides to the tomato plant and add fertilizer to the soil. However, these methods can exacerbate non-pathogenic disorders. Not to mention they are costly and unnecessary.
Non-pathogenic disorders include sunscald, zippering, cracking, catfacing, blossom end rot, and gray wall. All of these disorders exhibit symptoms similar to a tomato disease. But they are the tomato plant’s response to an adverse environmental condition such as temperature, water, shading, and soil nutrients.
Tomato Plant Diseases and Cures: Tomato Gray Wall Symptoms
Tomato gray wall is a ripening disorder. Tomatoes afflicted with gray wall have grayish-brown to yellow discolorations on the fruit wall. Sometimes it makes the fruit appear unripe, blotchy or discolored. Many people refer to tomato gray wall as blotchy ripening.
Gray wall usually begins to appear on the fruit while it is still green, but becomes more noticeable as the fruit matures. Gary wall causes the skin of the tomato to become thick and turn yellow or gray in color. The fruit will look like it is ripening unevenly, with portions looking completely normal.
Identifying tomato gray wall or blotchy ripening is quite simple. And almost all ripening disorders have the same solution, so correct diagnosis is not essential. If your tomato plants appear blotchy, gray, or have an uneven ripeness, check the leaves and stems for mottling and distortion. Mottled and distorted foliage accompanied by blotchy ripening or gray wall, means that the plant is infected with a virus. Most likely the tomato mosaic virus which closely mimics a ripening disorder and is very easy to spread.
Tomato Plant Diseases and Cures: Tomato Gray Wall Treatments
Sometimes gray wall is simply the end product of cold temperatures, damp conditions, or too many cloudy days. However other times the problem is the soil. Soils too high in nitrogen or too low in potassium can lead to ripening disorders. As can soils that are too compacted.
To treat gray wall, other ripening disorders, and numerous tomato diseases:
1.Make sure the plant is getting plenty of sunlight, not heavily shaded or crowded.
2.Be sure that the soil is loose and that your growing bed has good drainage and proper irrigation management.
3.Use mulch or natural compost instead of store bought fertilizer.
Making your own compost is as easy as sorting your garbage. Not only does compost help tomato plants grow better, it helps them build resistance to a variety of tomato diseases. Kind of like a vaccination. Making your own compost also saves you money and reduces waste in city landfills where organic material is slow to decompose.
Check your local University website for more information on tomato diseases, disorders, and treatments. The Department of Plant Pathology at Penn State University has an extensive list of tomato diseases.
AVRDC: The World Vegetable Center
Department of Plant Pathology, Tomato Diseases, Penn State University
Bonnie Cox & Timothy Coolong, Management of Non-Pathogenic Fruit Disorders of Tomato in Organic Production Systems, Cornell University