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Old August 17, 2018   #1
strawbaleking
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Default Fusarium diagnosis help

Hi, I need help with Fusarium.
I took these photos today. My history is I have had in the past few years tomato plants that are not hybrids with F tolerance, yellowing leaves, later wilting, browning and mostly a zombie plant once that happens. I live near Sacramento, CA and it gets pretty hot and dry.
The plants year after year get hit around the same time, end of July early August after giving good production. The fruits are never affected.
My black tomatoes don't get the yellows, they just start crisping up from the bottom sometimes on one side. Non blacks do get the yellows but sometimes not yellow but just a lightening of leaves then wilting. Always later with the wilting. Do black varieties react differently to Fusarium?
My Pink Berkeley Tie Dye(black krim genes), my first year this year, grew a few, all dying. Just like all the russian blacks for me like Black Krim or Paul Robeson always die. Cherokee derived are sometimes ok. Cherokee Carbon is ok right now. Last year Dana Dusky Rose, Bear Creek, Indian Stripe, Vorlon, or JD Special(the early girl parent VF must help) those did not die since I started those kind in the last 3 years but it was super hot like most days 100 last year and got very low production. Though Big Beef was fine last year and got to eat a good amount. But I longed for the others....
What has frightened me is that for the first time ever, my Big Beef and Whoppers started wilting bad, end of July, no leave issues at all. Huge productivity till the wilting happened quickly over a week. I was worried about bacterial wilt, but there was no milky output in a clear jar of water of multiple stems after waiting. Those hybrids did not recover and were pulled. I have no photos of those, they were just wilting. After pulling them the roots showed no nematodes nodules, no damage from critters(or me), and normal moisture levels. So I am stumped and worried of course about next year. I have read Bills B54Red exploits for years THANKS BILL! for all the info you take the time to write about everything.
I did try a little grafting a couple years ago, did very badly. I tried again this year and did get 50% to make it. However these were trial grafting sessions, so I used Big Beef as root stock. I bought nursery plants and grafted from those choices. Big Beef to Big Boy(why? I like the texture but not so much the taste sometimes), BB to Brandy Boy(those always died of Fusarium in past years), and BB to Mule Team. All those grafts plus the non grafts like Goliath(original 1800s version) are showing fusarium or what looks like it in the pictures below. I hate to think I have the 3rd race of Fusarium now with the Big Beef and Whopper CR Imp wilts. Keeping fingers crossed Cherokee Carbon stays up. I really did love PBTD. Does GGWT get a bigger longer lasting plant?
So here are some photos. The stems do have brown vascular damage somewhat on a few stems. Some stems are almost hollow. The leaves just look sick and I cannot really tell if there is a foliage disease. I water by timed drip lines. I used Trichoderma and MycoStop and general good probiotics and used Tomato Tone with some occasional liquid kelp. Again, every single plant was thriving from April to end of July them wham. July is brutal here.
Thanks,
Gary
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Old August 17, 2018   #2
ginger2778
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Hi Gary, fusarium is a soil born fungus that goes systemically and it sounds like you're well aware of that. I do not have a problem with that, and not with root knot nematodes either, however I garden much differently then you do. Since nematodes and fusarium come from my soil, I now garden using potting mix put into a container that has a solid impermeable barrier between the container and my native soil. I mostly use Earthboxes, but I also use plain old landscape 7 gal shrub pots. And since the shrub pots have normal drainage holes, roots can grow through them and into the native soil and get fusarium, and also nematodes could migrate through the holes and infect the roots. My simple answer is to take that bag that my potting mix came in which is a thick impermeable 3 mil plastic, and just fold that up and place it under the pot. That allows drainage because it allows water to runoff that is in excess, but more important is that it is a barrier to the fusarium and the nematodes. For me this is a simple solution and I don't have to bother with grafting. Now instead of a three-month season I am getting a nine-month season.( I am lucky enough to live in South Florida and don't have to deal with frost).
You can see my 7 gallon pots with the plastic under them to the right in the photo. Easy peasy problem solved.
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Old August 18, 2018   #3
strawbaleking
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Hi, thanks for responding, Ginger!

3 years ago I bought some fabric grow pots and good potting soil. Nobody died, well, the Black Cherry crisped up over time. I guess I should have put plastic down under the 10 gal grow bags but I also only did F tolerance plants. During that same season I also came across straw bale growing. The plants that I grew in the bales were very very healthy. And many heirlooms (well the cherokee type blacks) did well. Much bigger plants than the grow pots. Nobody died in bales except Black Krim, Brandy Boy, and Paul Robeson. I have never had such happy looking plants in my life until using straw bales. I am growing pumpkins same way. Huge leaves all around no matter what I grew. The more tomato varieties I tried, now that I was working with happy plants, the more failures I had these past few years with many trialed heirlooms. Big Beef though always was fine. Till this year... Last year was very hot. So my production was bad. So this year I thought I would try a ton of hybrids that should take the heat. It wasn't quite as hot this year of course, but still alot high 90's and some 100. Big Beef and Whopper(new to me this year) really really put out and tasted good. Texture still too firm though for me. The other hybrids and all had F and FF tolerance were all pretty firm. I prefer the black textures and balanced flavor of those. I like pinks but the texture for me is only good for a very short time. Anyway, I stopped using the pots after that first year because the straw bale method was great. Plus the tomatoes just tasted so great because the plants were so healthy. Well until not... Better Bush tastes great and has good texture but doesn't put out that much. Better Boy kinda bland as well as Big Boy and for me neither big producers like Big Beef or Whopper. I did like Jet Star but production was low. Charger was very firm until you let it sit on counter for a good while... Ace was not that great. Goliath too ribbed and scarred. Super Fantastic just ok. Pink Berkeley Tie Dye very good taste and texture as well as Cherokee Carbon and Black Cherry(first to die). Brandy Boy grafted on Big Beef still got the sickly yellows and wilts. Mule Team on BB graft just tasted too acidic and the skin was thick(did not get sick but I pulled).
Who is still alive after this yellow and crisping take down? Cherokee Carbon, Jet Star F, Better Bush FF, Charger FFF, Big Boy grafted on a Big Beef, and Sweet Gold Cherry F.
So I am confused as to almost randomness of take down.
The bales come from local farms no roundup used or near them. I did plant some Big Beef randomly as well as some Pink Berkeley and though 1 BB died near bales, others ok, though all PDTD all crisped up. Whopper ok in raised bed that had F in it in the past. Better Boy in F bed doing ok. The plants not in bales were planted in mid and late May instead of Mid April in Bales. They are younger plants and are now fruiting. So succession can help I guess. A younger plant can take more of the stresses especially if not fully loaded yet I guess. So from the pictures and my history is does look like all F right and nothing else also?
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Old August 19, 2018   #4
ginger2778
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It's difficult to tell if nothing else or not, indeed the stem cut shots were how I told it was fusarium. I hope other chime in becsuse I never have the issue.
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Old August 19, 2018   #5
b54red
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I battled fusarium for 35 years before finally throwing in the towel and going entirely to grafted plants. I tried the resistant hybrid varieties and like you found them hard and rather tasteless except Big Beef which was my insurance tomato until another race of fusarium showed up and started taking them out also.

I did find over the years that some heirloom varieties withstood fusarium better than others but none had the resistance to last long enough. I use an FFF resistant root stock now that also seems resistant to Bacterial Wilt and nematodes. I rarely see a sign of fusarium or nematodes anymore and it has made tomato growing so much more rewarding and so much easier. I sometimes let volunteers grow but they usually succumb to fusarium before producing much in the way of fruit.

You really have only a few choices and your decision should be based on how you want to deal with the problem. You can either continue on with the loses or you can grow in containers, grow the highly fusarium resistant hybrids or graft. I tried all of them and accepted that I just didn't have the energy to do all those containers, hated the hybrids, and loved the taste of good heirloom tomatoes so it was a no-brainer for me.

Grafting wasn't the easiest thing for me to get the hang of but after a couple of years I figured out a few tricks and methods that increased my success rate to the point where it isn't the challenge it once was nor as espensive. Despite my ability now to graft well enough to supply myself and a few friends with enough grafted plants it can still be aggravating at times. I sometimes get no successful grafts with a particular variety and end up not planting it that year but still it beats having to deal with containers or watching my plants slowly wilt and die before their time. My production has gone up significantly and I don't have to set out nearly as many plants in order to have an adequate supply of tomatoes and it is really nice to have some fresh tomatoes during those stressful months of peak summer heat when fusarium would ordinarily take down even my best looking plants.

Now I only have to deal with weather, pests and foliage diseases which are no small concerns down here.

Bill
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Old August 19, 2018   #6
strawbaleking
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Hi, Bill!
Thanks for responding!
I think I have read every post you have made during the last few years. Seeing you struggle for the last decade but working your way through it and sharing success and failures with all of us. I have been trying most of the same things because of you. Just delayed due to lazyness...
So, based on the photos and my dry California weather, using shadecloth and drip watering, does it seem like I only have fusarium?
It just freaked me out just like it did you when Big Beef started to do the wilts. It's just that it and the Whopper never got the yellows of it's neighbors just started to showing show up over a week. I mean it seemed like it might be bacterial because of no yellowing or crisping, but the milky test just wouldn't show it. So I dunno... most of the other stuff is F. I can't tell if anything foliage disease on them, they are just sick. However on the blacks that get it, they don't yellow, they just crisp up from bottom and mostly on one side. Do blacks react differently to F? Pinks for me seem to get partial stems and leaves light green then very yellow and stay yellow for a good while before brown. Reds with reg leaves are mixed yellowing and brown death.
Either way, with this current year being a more of a real problem compared to the last 10, I have to graft more and get better at it. I, like you, tried some container growing. It's just so hot and dry here. Also harder to keep the roots cooler. The straw bale method was working pretty good, but I guess it was more contaminated from the grower this year (or the ground beneath which I did not put plastic down like I know I should have) and the composting process not hot enough to kill the fusarium(I found a study recently that it was pretty hard to kill this way).
So yes, I must learn to graft better with more practice. I had more success like you when it was cooler. I didn't do many, just tried with few nursery plants. I wished I had spent to money this year on growing seedlings again and of course actually using RST 106 instead of using Big Beef as rs but I never had a problem before with Big Beef. I even have some younger BB in some ground spots that I have not grown in for a while and they are ok. They don't look anywhere near the health of the bale grown plants. Well, before all this...
So, since I don't have Vert I would think here, and my usual deaths are in late July early August just after full loadset and ripening, I should use RST 106 for the F3 and Bac Wilt protection? I will use again the mostly root removal method, that did help as did cooler temps. I did find for the heck of it I could even *not* root a cutting and then graft to it and get some to live, crazy how they want to live.
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Old August 22, 2018   #7
b54red
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I had better luck with some of my black tomato varieties with fusarium than most of the pinks and reds but I never found one that had what I would call true resistance. One problem you may be having with the black varieties is some gray mold. It will tend to show up first on the shadiest parts of the plant first so if the side that is looking sick is the shady side that may be your culprit. Even if it is it should move much slower up the plant in the low humidity of California than it does down here where the humidity is so high. Try a copper spray on your black tomatoes and see if it makes a difference.

Bill
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Old August 24, 2018   #8
Johnniemar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ginger2778 View Post
Hi Gary, fusarium is a soil born fungus that goes systemically and it sounds like you're well aware of that. I do not have a problem with that, and not with root knot nematodes either, however I garden much differently then you do. Since nematodes and fusarium come from my soil, I now garden using potting mix put into a container that has a solid impermeable barrier between the container and my native soil. I mostly use Earthboxes, but I also use plain old landscape 7 gal shrub pots. And since the shrub pots have normal drainage holes, roots can grow through them and into the native soil and get fusarium, and also nematodes could migrate through the holes and infect the roots. My simple answer is to take that bag that my potting mix came in which is a thick impermeable 3 mil plastic, and just fold that up and place it under the pot. That allows drainage because it allows water to runoff that is in excess, but more important is that it is a barrier to the fusarium and the nematodes. For me this is a simple solution and I don't have to bother with grafting. Now instead of a three-month season I am getting a nine-month season.( I am lucky enough to live in South Florida and don't have to deal with frost).
You can see my 7 gallon pots with the plastic under them to the right in the photo. Easy peasy problem solved.
Hi marsha

How do you water all of those container plants. Do you have an automated system?
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