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Old June 13, 2018   #1
GoDawgs
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Default Bacterial Wilt, A Quick Death

The last time I planted tomatoes in the main garden was 2014. For whatever reason, tomato bacterial wilt appeared and attacked large tomato plants right when they had nice sized green fruit set. Ever since, the tomatoes have been grown in buckets up at the house.

I've read a ton on this and it seems the consensus that IF it ever goes away, it could be 3-4 years but mostly it's there to stay. It's been four years so this year I decided to install a few test plants in the garden. One each Celebrity, Black Vernissage and Early Girl.They are at the point where they've set nice sized fruit so I've been watching closely every day. Four days ago I spied an "Uh Oh"... it always starts with the tip of just one small branch, usually at the top of the plant.

Day 1, Jun 9 – Wilt or curl on Blk Vernissage?



Day 1, Jun 9 – Wilt or curl on Celebrity?



Day 2, Jun 10 – Top third to a half affected, Black Vernissage



Day 2, Jun 10 – Half of Celebrity affected.



Day 3, Jun 11 – Wilt affecting most all.



Day 4, Jun 12 – Wilt complete



It's amazing how fast bacterial wilt will take down tomatoes. One of the good sites on this is :
https://www.todayshomeowner.com/bact...tomato-plants/

One of the tips they gave said that plants with fusarium and verticillium both exhibit discolored foliage but that with bacterial wilt there is none. The leaves on my plants were clean as a whistle before and all the way through their ordeal.

Tomorrow I will dig up the plants, cut a section of stem above the roots, put it in a glass of water and watch for bacterial streaming, the final verdict.

Meanwhile, the main tomato plants at the house are fat and happy!


Last edited by GoDawgs; June 14, 2018 at 12:11 AM.
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Old June 14, 2018   #2
MrBig46
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Sad, but instructive. Thanks for sharing your photos.
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Old June 14, 2018   #3
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GoDawgs, I've found the same type results with Fusarium wilt 3 and RKN. I don't know about bacterial wilt, but your pictures showed me all I need to see.

In the next to last picture you posted above, whatever is flowering in the background (Looks like a Crepe Myrtle) - maybe grow that instead? I know you can't eat them, but they are beautiful. Lantanas work well for me in this diseased soil.
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Old June 14, 2018   #4
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Wow - you have had a bunch of challenges! Thanks for providing all that helpful detail and analysis.
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Old June 14, 2018   #5
GoDawgs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlittleSalt View Post
GoDawgs, I've found the same type results with Fusarium wilt 3 and RKN. I don't know about bacterial wilt, but your pictures showed me all I need to see.
I pulled up the plants this morning and was relieved to see that the roots were totally clear of RKN. And I did cut a section of stem. You could see on the cross section the vascular discoloration and when it was suspended in a glass of water, I could see the bacterial stream. Yep, bacterial wilt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlittleSalt View Post
In the next to last picture you posted above, whatever is flowering in the background (Looks like a Crepe Myrtle) - maybe grow that instead? I know you can't eat them, but they are beautiful. Lantanas work well for me in this diseased soil.
Yep, it's a crape myrtle. I have lots of them around. Love 'em! In fact there are two large ones, one on each of the upper corners of the garden and between them are muscadine grapes on a fence. As they all conspire to send masses of fibrous roots into the top two beds, it means a thorough broadforking of those both fall and spring.
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Old June 14, 2018   #6
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Thanks for the lesson. I have a spot that has bacterial wilt too. I have waited 4 years. I now know to NEVER plant there again. Of course I just moved so that won't be a problem.
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Old June 15, 2018   #7
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Had peppers do that with chili wilt one year.

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Old June 15, 2018   #8
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Forgot to post a pic of that stem cross section. Couldn't get a clear picture of the streaming in the glass of water.
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Old June 15, 2018   #9
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GoDawgs:

Sadly, that was a perfect description of bacterial wilt on my plants - big, lush, green, heavy fruit set . . . oh no . . . is that wilt? - or maybe just a hot sunny day? - dead!

I learned to graft to control the wilt. Otherwise, I would go to grow bags. I always throw in some extra ungrafted plants and about a half to a third make it through - especially cherries.

Going to read the info at the link now. Thanks.

Jeff
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Old June 15, 2018   #10
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Very good, instructional demise, thanks for sharing. We all feel your pain.
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Old June 15, 2018   #11
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It looks from the picture that you might also have some fusarium wilt starting in the stem. I feel for you with the devastation that Bacterial Wilt brings to big healthy tomato plants. I have lost plants to it for decades but have not had a case in three years since I started using RST-04-106-T root stock for my grafting of tomatoes. I don't know if I have been just lucky or it is that resistant to Bacterial Wilt. Keeping my fingers crossed that I don't have any more problems with it.

Before I started grafting when a plant came down with Bacterial Wilt I would pour a gallon or two of diluted bleach and soak the soil before I would pull the plant. I planted back in the same spot a few weeks later and had no problems with Bacterial Wilt in that spot so maybe it works. I do know that I did it every time I had a plant come down with it after that and my incidence of Bacterial Wilt decreased over the course of a few years.
Before I started using the RST root stock, but was grafting to other root stock I did have a few cases of Bacteral Wilt.

I did notice that it seemed to hit more often after a good rainy spell when the ground was good and soaked. I never saw it in the fall of the year when conditions were usually dry and cooler.

Bill
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Old June 16, 2018   #12
AlittleSalt
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I agree with Bill, you possibly have some fusarium wilt. Here is a picture from my garden last year. This is what Fusarium Wilt race 3 looks like. They snapped like a dried stick. Notice how the second one down looks. That's why I am agreeing with Bill.
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File Type: jpg FWILT.jpg (49.3 KB, 85 views)
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Last edited by AlittleSalt; June 16, 2018 at 12:08 AM.
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Old June 17, 2018   #13
gorbelly
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Bacterial wilt also browns vascular tissue. The plant collapsing from wilt suddenly with no yellowing or other discoloration + brown vascular tissue = classic bacterial wilt.

I had a couple of Cherokee Purple plants go down from it a couple years ago. Took about 3 or 4 days. It was fast. I get the occasional pepper that succumbs to it.

However, I have grown tomatoes and peppers in the same spots last year (I have a small garden, and it's very difficult to rotate), and they were fine. I amended with a lot of organic matter, including tons of coffee grounds, and I drenched seedlings with B. amyloliquifaciens and drenched with it at planting and the plants thrived until frost.

But PA is very different from GA.

I believe some rootstocks are now bacterial wilt resistant, so you could try grafting tomatoes. Or grow in containers.
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Old June 17, 2018   #14
GoDawgs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b54red View Post
Before I started grafting when a plant came down with Bacterial Wilt I would pour a gallon or two of diluted bleach and soak the soil before I would pull the plant. I planted back in the same spot a few weeks later and had no problems with Bacterial Wilt in that spot so maybe it works. I do know that I did it every time I had a plant come down with it after that and my incidence of Bacterial Wilt decreased over the course of a few years.Bill
Interesting. I wonder... maybe I can bleach-treat those three holes where I pulled the dead plants and plant a few new ones in four weeks. I just started a few tomato plants for fall buckets and if I start a few more test plants to plant in the treated holes they'll be ready in four weeks. Can't hurt to try; all in the name of science, ya know.
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Old June 17, 2018   #15
GoDawgs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlittleSalt View Post
I agree with Bill, you possibly have some fusarium wilt. Here is a picture from my garden last year. This is what Fusarium Wilt race 3 looks like. They snapped like a dried stick. Notice how the second one down looks. That's why I am agreeing with Bill.
Thanks for those photos of fusarium. I still think it's wilt but having your pics is good information!
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