Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

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Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby greybeard » Thu May 14, 2015 9:09 pm

The plants looked great yesterday afternoon--up about 2 ft tall, and first blooms on. I was gone out of town much of the day today, went and looked at them when I got home and every one of them is wilted like month old lettuce. I mean hanging limp leaves and stems.
B-I-L said he thought it was because the sun came out today for the first time in days and it got hot fast, and the high temps just steamed or cooked the plants because there was so much moisture in the leaves, stems and in the ground. Is this a reasonable explanation? My peas look a little wilted too, but not as bad.
Can't be lack of moisture--garden is floating but whatever it was, it happened suddenly, happened to all 15 plants, and it happened today. (temp today was in the lower 80s I think, and full sun until around 4pm.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby kjonesel » Thu May 14, 2015 9:19 pm

I'll have my daughter look at your post. She just spoke this evening at the local Farm Bureau meeting on Heirloom Tomatoes. She knows a lot about tomatoes as she and I set out 150 the last two nights. She wants to set out 150 more before it rains but she has an awards banquet tomorrow night.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby kjonesel » Thu May 14, 2015 9:25 pm

My daughter said it had an effect similar to boiling the roots. The best thing is to try to keep moisture away and the plant should bounce back. She had it happen 2 years ago when she overwatered her tomatoes by leaving the waterer on all night.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby greybeard » Thu May 14, 2015 9:38 pm

I guess I better plan on setting out more plants or doing without 'maters this year---1/2 of Texas (myself included) is trying hard to find a way keep water away.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby CottageFarm » Thu May 14, 2015 10:04 pm

Take a look at them 1st thing in the morning. If they bounce back overnite, its a sun/heat thing, similar to greenhouse plants that see their first full day of sun. Im guessing you haven't seen much sun the past few weeks and the plants acclimated. Sun comes out blazing, with waterlogged everything, it stresses the plants. You can tent them with shade cloth or row cover/frost blankets, or just let them re-acclimate on their own. They'll get knocked back a bit, but they will recover.

If they don't rebound overnite, its likely that theyre just too wet. Tomatoes don't like soggy feet, and it can eventually kill them. Especially if the soil temp is also much below about 65 degrees and heavy soil. If that's the case, your best bet to save them is to remove some of the soggy soil and replace with some dry, fast draining soil, like a commercial potting mix that has perlite or vermiculite added. If you have a sandy soil, any dry soil mix would be fine.

The rapidity you describe sounds unlikely for disease, though not impossible. That said, however, with how wet its been, I would recommend a preventative fungicide to reduce that risk while they recover.

If they don't show marked improvement within 5 days, I would get some more plants as a backup plan. :)
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby 3waycross » Fri May 15, 2015 12:22 am

If they were smaller and more tender I would have said cutworms. Maybe still is.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby Craig Miller » Fri May 15, 2015 3:05 am

kjonesel wrote:I'll have my daughter look at your post. She just spoke this evening at the local Farm Bureau meeting on Heirloom Tomatoes. She knows a lot about tomatoes as she and I set out 150 the last two nights. She wants to set out 150 more before it rains but she has an awards banquet tomorrow night.



:shock: Just curious. What do you do with all those tomatoes?
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby kjonesel » Fri May 15, 2015 4:49 am

There is a local farmer's market and she has taken them there the past two years. She asks for a free will offering and then uses the money for her local FFA chapter. This past year she raised enough money for a set of FFA jackets for members who don't have a jacket to wear to events, bought the meat for their banquets, supplies for the chapter events, and helped pay for some members to go to the different conferences. At the Farm Bureau meeting alone she raised over 30 dollars on the tray of heirloom tomato plants she brought.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby greybeard » Fri May 15, 2015 12:15 pm

About 1/2 of the tomatos looked better this morning, but the pea vines continue to wilt. We just had a little t-storm drop rain here, and now the sun is coming out again. I don't hold out much hope of survival with these see-saw conditions..........
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby Jogeephus » Fri May 15, 2015 1:35 pm

Anyway to aerate the soil a little or is it still to wet?
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby Nesikep » Fri May 15, 2015 1:57 pm

Could it be blight? I know that hits all nightshades fast and hard... Just thinking out loud, I've never seen it so i don't know the details about it.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby Jogeephus » Fri May 15, 2015 3:14 pm

Nesikep wrote:Could it be blight? I know that hits all nightshades fast and hard... Just thinking out loud, I've never seen it so i don't know the details about it.


That was my first thought and if it were here I'd say it was for sure especially if he didn't plant resistant varieties. Here they will grow beautiful and then all of a sudden the leaves will roll and they will look droughty and wilt almost overnight. Then they die.

If its envirionmental then I think what has happened is the plants didn't set down good roots because water was so plentiful and when the sun came out and they started needing water there was too much bush and too little root.....hence the wilt. In this case you could aerate the dirt some and apply some P and K and maybe magnesium and get the roots growing good. Roots need air so aeration could help if this is the case.

Just thinking out loud.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby greybeard » Fri May 15, 2015 10:56 pm

Jogeephus wrote:Anyway to aerate the soil a little or is it still to wet?

When the sun came out, the soil did not dry out at all--not on top or deeper down.
Ever been to a beach, or any damp spot, and just tap your foot a little and within a few taps, liquid comes to the top? It only takes one tap here. We've had about 2 weeks now of rain every day-1/3 of my property is under 2' of flood water, my yard barely supports my weight, and my garden is mud--a tight clay soil, that once wet, stays wet. I didn't look at the raingage today, but I think we got 1 1/2 inches. Rain is in the forecast for next 4 days. Doing any kind of soil work or aerating is out of the question.
I picked my squash today with one of these, to reach over to the squash rows.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby Jogeephus » Fri May 15, 2015 11:07 pm

Sounds more like the plants are drowning. Roots have to have air. That's been my problem with the beavers killing timber. Flooded woods in winter is no problem but when they are growing they die from drowning.
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Re: Tomato plants suddenly wilted as if not enuf water

Postby CottageFarm » Sat May 16, 2015 7:22 am

Jogeephus wrote:Sounds more like the plants are drowning. Roots have to have air. That's been my problem with the beavers killing timber. Flooded woods in winter is no problem but when they are growing they die from drowning.


X2 -
they can be saved, but its a lot of work, and would require adding a fair bit of stuff to the soil, and digging up the soil (essentially replanting them). They would have a good chance of recovering in about 3 weeks, but some may always be kinda sickly.

Personally, I would replace the plants. Find a nursery with some pretty mature stock, and you wont be set back too much time wise. With the weather warming up they'll establish pretty quickly. When you plant them, dig a larger hole and add some fine mulch and perlite to your native soil. Also some B12 and fish elusion. Apply both after planting. apply the B12 again after 2 weeks, and the fish emulsion weekly for about the 1st month.

I have seen both early and late blight, (I think I;ve seen about every tomato disease that exists :frowns: ) both do come on quickly, but you;ll see signs. Spots and discoloration on leaves and/or stems. Still, with this very wet weather, a fungicide would be a good preventative step to take.

Your peas may just be responding to the heat. What type are they?
You may start seeing problems with peppers soon too. They're not as fussy as tomatoes, but they don't like all that water either. When you can get into the garden again, it might help to mix some perlite or vermiculite into the soil around the plants.
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