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Old June 1, 2017   #1
AlittleSalt
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Default Fusarium Wilt

I posted on other threads about what is happening with a few of our tomato plants. I am to understand that it is Fusarium Wilt or FF or FFF. I noticed these two Sweet Million plants looking bad last night. They looked worse this morning. We went shopping/bill paying for 5 hours and came home to see the plants looking like this.
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Old June 1, 2017   #2
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This is a comparison to two tomato plants growing beside the ones pictured above. These two plants are Anna Aasa and Sweetie Cherry. They are all in the same raised bed.
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Old June 1, 2017   #3
Worth1
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Being in the same bed I dont think it is F wilt.
I am not a disease expert by any means.

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Old June 1, 2017   #4
Cole_Robbie
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My wilt is starting to break out everywhere. I had the horrible thought that maybe I spread it all around with my scissors as I pruned the plants.
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Old June 1, 2017   #5
AlittleSalt
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That part is throwing me off too Worth. There are healthy looking tomato plants growing 3' away.

I also noticed something odd while hanging out clothes. This plant has been growing there for years - notice how one branch has turned brown/black. It isn't broken or anything obvious. I tried to get a close-up picture but it came out so blurry it hurts your eyes.
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Old June 1, 2017   #6
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bought plants or started yourself by seed?
We had a blight a few years ago that was linked to certain plant vendors/soil.
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Old June 1, 2017   #7
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All were started by me from seed.

I did buy two plants, but they are in another garden 90+' away.
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Old June 1, 2017   #8
b54red
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It sure looks like fusarium wilt to me and I have seen a lot of it over the years. The first or second year I was gardening in this location the local extension expert came out to see my garden after I took in a couple of dying tomato plants. He said I couldn't grow tomatoes in my soil because I had such a terrible fusarium wilt problem. He said the only type I could possibly have any luck with were hybrid varieties that had FF resistance and RKN resistance. For years those were the only types I grew but eventually became tired of the sameness and the rather uninspiring flavor of most of those varieties with the exception of Big Beef. I finally started growing heirlooms with very limited success as most of them died rather quickly and most didn't live long enough to even set any usable fruit. I started keeping large numbers of replacement plants and trying all kinds of things to protect them but it was mostly a matter of luck. If we had a really cold winter then the next year I would lose less plants and have to replace fewer dead ones the first few months. Basically that is how I got into staggered planting dates which I still use. Sometimes I could replace a plant killed by fusarium with another variety or even the same variety of heirloom and that plant might do okay despite the fact that it was in the same spot. Sometimes I would replace the plants in several spots every month or so and never get one to survive yet the one right next to it might do fine for months before finally getting sick. The very next year the spot that was terrible would be okay and the spot that seemed to have less fusarium the year before might be the worst spot in the garden. So to answer your question. Yes you can have plants in the same bed not be affected right next to plants dying from fusarium. I never found a true rhyme or reason for the disparity.

As I got older and my health became worse doing all that removing and replacing plants just got to be too much especially when the third race of fusarium wilt showed up in my garden and fewer and fewer plants survived for any reasonable length of time and my FF resistant hybrids rarely lived much longer than some of the heirlooms, I gave in to the inevitable and began grafting onto FFF resistant root stock. It was a good bit of trouble figuring out a procedure that gave me good results grafting but it was certainly rewarding knowing I can at least for the time being grow any variety I want just as long as I can get a good graft.

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Old June 1, 2017   #9
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I'm so sorry Salt. Yep, it looks to be one of the Wilts. You could cut the stem and place it in a clear container of water. If it is Bacterial Wilt, there will be a milky substance coming out of the stem. Not that it matters much which one it is.
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Old June 1, 2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissS View Post
I'm so sorry Salt. Yep, it looks to be one of the Wilts. You could cut the stem and place it in a clear container of water. If it is Bacterial Wilt, there will be a milky substance coming out of the stem. Not that it matters much which one it is.
But bacterial would be airborne right, not soil?
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Old June 2, 2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissS View Post
I'm so sorry Salt. Yep, it looks to be one of the Wilts. You could cut the stem and place it in a clear container of water. If it is Bacterial Wilt, there will be a milky substance coming out of the stem. Not that it matters much which one it is.
Patti, yes, that is one thing I'm going to do today. I have not walked out to the plants yet, but looking at them through the window - they look even worse than yesterday. If I were to cut off the yellow sections and those with wilt - there wouldn't be anything left. I will pull them today and post the results of the bacterial wilt test and cut into the stems to see if it is Fusarium. Of course, also look at the roots for RKN.

Going to the zoo Wednesday has caught up to me. I was hoping it wouldn't happen.
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Old June 1, 2017   #12
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No my understanding is that it is soil-borne. I have been wrong before though.
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Old June 2, 2017   #13
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Bill, there's not a better teacher than experience. Thank you.

I did look for VFN seeds locally today, and there were none. I do have around 15 Big Beef VFFNTA F1 seeds I could get started Friday June 2 which is still one month before the recommended seed starting for a fall garden here.

I have read a lot about grafting, and it is still confusing to me.

The rest of this is/are just thoughts on what I have seen in 7 years of tomato gardening:

I read a lot about crosses and F1s, and I have accidentally created my own crosses, received other people's crosses, and got wrong seeds from purchases from seed selling companies. What I have found about these crosses is that they grow faster and bigger plants with better tasting tomatoes. I think that is what others call Hybrid Vigor. I have also experienced F2s not being as good, and F3s have been awful. Then there is an F4 that is producing very well even though RKN is there and the plant is a lot smaller but no signs of fusarium.

That leaves me wondering about a lot of things. We have a Big Beef VFFNTA F1 tomato that is now well past first blush. Could I take seeds from it - and would they still be VFFNTA? If so, I could start seeds tomorrow -June 2 ^ same as above without having to use F1 seeds. (Yes, I pinch pennies that much.)

The idea is to cross Big Beef VFFNTA with varieties of Campari, Sweetie Cherry, Porter, Sungold, Sun Cherry Extra Sweet, Sun Sugar, Amish Gold, Rebel Yell, and whatever I clone.

I do not look at having RKN and Fusarium as a reason to stop gardening. I see it at as a reason to improve gardening.
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Old June 2, 2017   #14
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Big Beef is a good hybrid to use as long as you don't have that third race of fusarium wilt. I guess the best way to find out is plant a bunch of Big Beefs and if they all stay fusarium free then you don't have to worry for now.

As to using the seed from Big Beefs I have done that and the resulting tomato plants were not always as good nor as disease resistant so you should talk to someone who knows more about that type of thing than I do.

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Old June 2, 2017   #15
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Salt, since you seem to have some time to experiment given your longer season, why not root a bunch of small cuttings off your Big Beef plants, start some seeds from the OP varieties you mentioned, and try your hand at grafting?

This would be a cheaper way to learn grafting as you wouldn't have to spend the money on rootstock seed or more Big Beef seed. You would need clips, but if you don't want to invest in large amounts right now, Tomato Growers Supply sells a few sizes in 20-packs for less than $4. And there are very good and patient coaches in the 2017 grafting thread who will help you at every step along the way.

You could still do your crossing experiments, but those would need many subsequent grow outs before you'd know if they worked. Grafting could give you some good tomatoes to enjoy while you wait!
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