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okiedawn1

Ripe Tomatoes?

19 years ago

If you are growing tomatoes, how are they doing? Is anyone getting ripe ones yet? And, are there any serious pest or disease problems?

My tomatoes are just starting to get ripe. I've had a few Better Boys and a few SunGolds already, and many more are in various stages of coloring up. So, that part of it is good. (Any day you can pop a handful of SunGolds in your mouth while you're out in the garden is a good day. A really good day!)

My tomatoes are relatively pest-free and relatively disease-free and I HATE to say that because it means I have just jinxed myself, and will have every pest and disease possible on my tomato plants by the weekend! The lady bugs took care of the aphids, and I had a little flea beetle damage early on, but that's all over with now. I have a few spider mites, but I am not going to panic over that. At least not yet.

The tomatoes are HEAVILY mulched, so I think that is helping keep foliar diseases down. Even the pathways between rows of tomatoes are mulched.

I'm having a little problem with 5 or 6 plants that have leaf curl, but I really think it is a result of the sudden jump from the 80s to the 100s over the weekend. That kind of sudden increase in temperatures, as well as a sudden change from cloudiness to extreme sunniness, often results in a bit of leaf curl, especially in the month of May. It COULD be an early sign of a viral thing, but I'll just have to watch and see.

Well, that's the tomato report from extreme southern Oklahoma--zone 7B (almost zone 8). What's happening where you live and garden?

Dawn

Comments (20)

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My tomatoes are doing the best they have every done (Season 3). The plants I got at the swap (thanks Dawn and Lynn) are all doing well. About half have flowers and a few have fruit. Most of what we had already started have flowers and fruit. Nothing has even started thinking about turning colors yet. (Does dime size count as fruit?)

    The tomato plants have some pests, but I don't really know how to identify them. Then, once the pests are identified, what needs to be done? They were dusted with sevin once, but I am adament about not using again. Now I need to come up with another solution to pests.

    There are a few tomato leaves being eaten- especially between the veins. This has been a big problem in other parts of the garden- especially with the lettuce. A few bottom leaves have brown spots and/or are a little curled.

    I'm extremely excited about the vegetable garden- even the "failures" are successed since I didn't killl them in the seedling stage this year. It's like the green thumb gardening sense finally turned on. Now...... when can I eat a tomato....

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yippee, I am here! Ooops..sorry..excited to be in here since the site didnt work for me all weekend. :-( There's a crack down on net use at work, so I have to be careful about not coming in then. Phooey. And lots of my spare time at home is non computer time. ANyway, my tomato plants are doing sooooo much better than this time last year. I had flea beetle damage too and still have aphids. Also have ladybugs, so hoping they stay under control. Only have seen a few yellow leaves on my sunsugar and nothing else. The mulch seems to be working so far keeping things happy. My last tomato count was 6 days ago and I had 12 toms and 30 cherry sized. It's going to be a race to see which ripens first....Husky or Better Boy. I think at last count I had 28 plants. *gulp*

    ~Heidi (who has missed this place!)

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  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Went to check my tomato plants this morning and guess what i found? A tomato flower! Whoo hoo! Do the happy, can't wait for my first tomato dance!!!
    Michelle

    Here is a link that might be useful: Plant a Row for the hungry

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Mrs. Frodo: I am SO HAPPY your plants are doing so well. And, yes, dime-sized fruit counts as fruit! After all, it won't stay dime-sized long!

    I ignore most insect pests as they won't hurt the plants enough to seriously affect production. What has worked best for me is to use absolutely no chemicals that kill bugs. In general, if I leave the natural bug population alone, the predator bugs such as the soldier bugs, praying mantids, green lacewings, beneficial wasps (the tiny ones you can barely see are the beneficials), etc. will keep the "bad bugs" under control. However, if you use pesticides it seems that the bad bugs rebound faster than the beneficial ones, and it can be several years before you have enough "good bugs" to make a difference.

    This year I am going to release predatory mites to gobble up the red spider mites.

    Heidi: 28 tomato plants is not too many! I never have trouble giving away any tomatoes we don't eat, and you won't either. This year I am going to take some to our area's relatively new food bank. I was going to do it last year, but the 13" of rain in June wreaked havoc on my plants and my plans. What's even better than 28 plants? 30? I think your Husky tomatoes ought to ripen first, but then, if logic worked, my Early Girls would have ripened before the Better Boys and they did not, so who knows?

    Michelle: Glad you have tomato flowers! Love the Plant a Row for the Hungry program too. Any and all food banks can use a gardener's excess produce. And, especially in small towns like ours, there's never enough fresh produce at the food bank for all who need it!

    Keep the tomato reports coming in. I think it is going to be a very good tomato year.

    Dawn

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    LOL@ 30 plants for me. Hmmmmmm...wonder if I can find more. Noooo, best not to do so as I really have no more space. Official tomato count is Saturday. I have seen lots of blooms. Hoping most of the plants will have at least 1 tom.

    ~Heidi

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Nothing ripe yet but getting close. Gobs and gobs of maters on the plants! Already have ripe chiles. Zukes are blooming, too. I'm getting hungry!!

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Got about 50 tomatoes in three locations (smile) all but two or three plants have tomatoes on them, picked my second ripe one this am. Fitting for hubby's birthday gift. blooms on the squash and cukes. got small peppers setting on. discovered one tomatoe plant that was eatten to death except for the stems. not sure what kind of bug, but the plant must have been good since it was completely eaten over night. lucky it was only one plant. leaf curling has been a problem with the weather changes but no damage.
    got to check location two tomorrow to see if the tomatos are ripe.

    happy gardening

    still need to plant okra and watermelon.

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Unfortunately I planted mine really late. One of the Roma's had a tomato on it when I planted it. Funniest thing is that I have a volunteer that is doing super with a bunch of small tomatoes on it and tons of blooms!

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Messyme,

    My leaf curl has diminished some this week as the weather has cooled down considerably, so maybe it is only the seasonal "too hot, too soon" curl. I hope so.

    Chipotle Pepper,

    Aren't vounteer plants fun! I love the surprise of watching a volunteer plant grow and trying to guess what variety it is going to be. Generally, when I get a volunteer, it is either a Roma or a cherry type tomato.

    More ripe tomatoes today, and I gave my DH the SunGolds to eat, since I ate the first ripe ones by myself the other day while he was at work.

    I think tomorrow we'll be eating BLTs for lunch. Once the tomatoes begin to ripen, we eat BLTs until we can't stand them anymore. After a long winter without home-grown tomatoes, I think we go overboard as the 'maters begin to ripen.

    Dawn

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Dawn and mrsfrodo! I got a late start with my tomatoes and am only seeing blooms at this point. I'm jealous!

    I was so grateful for the rain on the last day of May. The plants just like rain so much better than they like city water. I'm so excited about trying different varieties this year; thanks to the wonderful plant swap we had. I'll think about that every time I enjoy one of those Ponderosa Pinks or Cherokee Purples!

    sara

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Can someone describe leaf curl to me? One of my brandywine's was kind of wilted looking just at the top last night and still this morning. I planted mine late, too, but have flowers on some of the yellow pear. I don't have much space for veggies (not enough sun), so I try to get two or three crops out of each bed. The operative word is "try."

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi OKPrairie:

    Like everything else involved in growing tomatoes, leaf curl can be an indication of something serious, or not!

    THE MOST COMMON TYPE OF LEAF CURL:
    The most common type of leaf curl on tomato plants grown in our climate occurs when the weather goes from relatively cool and cloudy to very hot and bright, seemingly overnight. Of course, this type of weather change is extrememly common in Oklahoma anywhere from April to mid-June, but especially in May. Some tomato plant leaves may curl upward. These leaves may have a sort of tough, leathery texture. This is merely the plants' way of expressing its displeasure at the dramatic change in growing conditions. It can be a sign that the plant is struggling to adjust to the increase in heat/light. Most times, this type of curling will go away as the plants adjust to the hotter, sunnier weather.

    Sometimes you'll see this type of leaf curl following a big rainstorm that is followed by full, bright sunny/hot weather. The large rainfall and bright sunlight afterwards can cause tomato plants to grow quickly, seemingly overnight, and I think the leaf curl is sometimes a response to that...as the root system may not be growing as fast as the topgrowth of the plant, and the leaves curl as a sign of the imbalance between the root growth and topgrowth.

    HERBICIDE DRIFT:
    If the leaves on your plants are curling downward, though, and the edges of the leaves are rolling and the tips of the leaves seem excessively pointy, your plants may have experienced damage from herbicide drift, esp. if the herbicide used contained 2-4-D. This is more common than most people think. I have heard of tomato plants being damaged by herbicide drift from a herbicide sprayed 1/2 mile away from the plants. If this occurs, all you can do is wait it out and see if the plant recovers.

    TOBACCO MOSAIC VIRUS:
    Curling leaves on plants that have mottled dark and light green foliage, with leaves that are smaller than usual, and somewhat distorted in appearance. can be a sign of Tobacco Mosaic Virus. Often the fruit itself will fail to ripen evenly and will have a mottled appearance. This is a serious disease for which there is no known cure. Remove and destroy affected plants. Do not compost them. Wash your hands after handling the sick plants and before touching anything else.

    CURLY TOP VIRUS:
    A relatively new disease in the tomato world here---I never saw it in Texas, but had it on some plants my second year in Oklahoma--is the curly top virus. I don't know if the curly top virus that affects the tomatoes is exactly the same as Beet Curly Top Virus, or if it is just somewhat similar, but the plants will look pathetic and then die. You will notice severe curling of the leaves. The texture of the leaves will seem sort of crinkly and leaf growth will be dwarfed. The leaves will cup upward and roll somewhat inward. If you look at the underside of the leaves, you may observe purple or purplish leaf veins. This disease is usually transmitted by leafhoppers as they migrate through the area. It is probably spread by other insects as well. If I have a plant or plants get it, I dispose of them immediately and treat the area for leafhoppers IF I am seeing them. Sometimes the leafhoppers migrate through and spread the disease, and by the time you see the disease on your plants, they have already moved on elsewhere. Some years I don't see leafhoppers at all. When I do, it is usually in late June or early July.

    I'm sure there are many other reasons leaves curl on tomato plants, but these are the most common.

    By the way, the leaf curl on my plants was on six plants, all of them the same type--Super Boy--and since this is my first year to grow this plant, I don't know if it is a common problem with Super Boy. As the weather has cooled and some rain has come, about 80% of the leaf curl has gone away.

    Is anything else going on with your Brandywine other than the leaf curl? Is the foliage off-color or anything? Since you planted your plants late, the wilting may be a physiological problem indicating that the amount of root growth is somewhat inadequate in comparison to both the top growth and the weather conditions. If so, it will correct itself as the plants grow. I hope.

    If you have further questions, let me know.

    Dawn

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks, Dawn. I'll inspect them more closely this weekend. I very seldom have problems with tomatoes. They're my fall back - when everything else fails. I'll be very discouraged if something is seriously wrong.

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    OKPrairie,

    You're welcome. Hope the info helps. You know, leaf curl is just like yellowing leaves--each of them is an indicator for about 50 different things--some serious, some not.

    Don't be discourged. Tomatoes are difficult to grow in our climate. After having done it for so long, it just seems "easy" to us because we are so "experienced" (my son's favorite way of saying we are so "old"!) Talk to someone in their first or second year of growing tomatoes, and you'll feel so "old and wise" (old in a good way, if you know what I mean).

    Tomato plants can look horrible and drive you to distraction with numerous foliar diseases, wilts, etc. and STILL produce a good crop. One of the hardest things I find with growing tomatoes organically is that plants that look gorgeous/productive in early June can look like crap by late June, but will still be producing like crazy! I also have learned that sometimes the worst looking plants will produce the best crop. It just figures, doesn't it!

    When you look at your plants this weekend, let me know what you see!!!! If you have a problem that seems serious, it is always best catch it early. I admit I am ruthless about yanking out a plant if it is seriously ill and if its' disease might be transmitted to other plants. But, since I plant way too many tomatoes to start with, yanking out one plant is no big deal. Often, though, tomato plant problems correct themselves. I've had plants get really sorry looking with early blight on the leaves in late June and yet, somehow, they survive it and bounce back and are still producing fruit in the August and September heat.

    Have a fun weekend in the garden!

    Dawn

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well, I walked my yard after the rain and found little green balls on my tomatoes. The size of peas. Youall would not believe how many plants I have in my "rose" bed. Was the only place I could plant this spring, wasn't feeling well at all. It is a square made with landscape timbers. 8"by8". I always buy more tomato and pepper plants than I have room for but this year I really did it. Twenty four pepper plants, six beefsteak tomatoes, nine tomato plants, don't remember which varity right now. All planted way too close together. Well, I will see what happens. There was already a big patch of onions and three roses that hadn't died. Also a patch of beautiful Iris, shades of gold and yellow. One volunteer asperagus (sp). Six pak of marigolds, (mandatory for tomatoes) two six paks of red dianthus circling a John Kennedy rose. I did find out that it is not a good idea to plant tomato plants in my front yard, no matter how well they grow there. Had a stranger knock on my door a couple of years ago to tell me that I had tomatoes ready to pick. Duhhhhhh, right out my picture window, like I couldn't see them. I think she was hinting but tough toots. Tomatoes are too easy to grow, she could grow her own. Though it might have been fun to watch her find the large banana spider that was living in the plants. rofl.

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My tomatoes are never going to ripen. Never. It's a conspiracy to drive me mad. Yup.

    I've had green tomatoes on my plants for...let's see...2 or 3 years now?

    Okay, so it just seems that way. I've lost my mind and will be checking myself into the nearest asylum this evening. After I check my tomatoes again.

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I picked one just today!

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Owie: It is all that rain y'all are getting! I find that my tomatoes stay green forever as long as it is raining a lot or has been cloudy a lot.

    Wanna know why? This is not a scientific answer but it is my best guess: Tomatoes produce fruit in order to set seed in order to perpetuate their species. If they are stressed and believe the plant is in danger of dying, they will produce fruit faster in order to set seed in order to guarantee their variety will live on after they die. If they are not as stressed, the plants don't feel as "rushed" to produce seed, so those green 'maters sit there forever!

    Of course, it also depends on the "Days To Maturity" on the varieties you planted. Actually, I think the tomatoes are taking their cue from your darling Nellie Pearl. As I recall, it seems like you carried her for 2 or 3 years also! lol lol lol

    By the way, even though I am getting ripe tomatoes, I have many, many, many plants covered in green balls of all sizes that just sit there and look at me every day, while I am chanting to them "Ripen! Ripen! Ripen!"

    Worst of all, I planted 'Green Grape', 'Green Zebra' and 'Lime Green Salad' and even THEY aren't ripe yet, although they are green. (It is the wrong color of green.)

    Knowing when you planted your tomatoes and knowing you planted a lot of the same varieties that I did, I bet you'll have ripe tomatoes in the next 10 to 14 days. And, just think about all those zone 3, 4 and 5 people who are just now getting plants into the ground and won't have ripe tomatoes for a long while yet. There. Don't you feel better now?

    Linda: Yippee! Do you know what variety it is?

    I picked about 15 tomatoes today, and have also harvested lots of other veggies.

    Dawn

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    i'm growing a sun gold plant and it has 3 tomatoes already, 1 seems to be about a week away from being ripe. the plant itself was bought at wal-mart in mid april, it was about 4-6inches tall at the time, now its about 1 1/2 feet tall and its internodal spacing is very compact. i used a product called Sensa-Spray the day after i bought the plant. sensa-spray is a ethylene producing spray made by Plantastic Plant Products. i've noticed that this plant has MANY more fruiting sites than the one i grew last year. i'm using the same soil , nutes, and bucket that i grew in last year. walmart general purpose potting soil, schultz 7 general purpose fert, in a 5 gallon bucket. btw sensa-spray is supposed to increase the number of female parts in a plant OR gaurantee a 100% female plant in plants that arent asexual. considering its a spray that releases ethylene, could this be used to hasten ripening of the tomatoes? the spray makes the plant wilt for about 10 days after its applied so i'm kinda iffy about spraying it again since it says only use right before the plant starts to flower. anyways i'm just wondering if an ethylene product would help hasten the ripening of my tomatoes since it seemed to work to increase the yield of the plant so far.also the sun golds that arent ripe yet seem to be TWICE the size that most sun gold tomatoes are when they are fully ripe. i'm getting about 8-15 flowers per cluster when last year i only had about 4-6 per cluster. any input is welcome and appreciated. thanks

    Here is a link that might be useful:

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Skyline,

    I've never used Sensa-Spray or anything like it, nor do I personally know anyone who has, so I can't comment much on that part of your post. Personally I don't place a lot of stock in hormonal sprays. Yes, they may give you more flowers but they also will stunt the growth of your plant, and I'm not sure you want that since larger plants produce more fruit.

    After reading your post, I went out to look at my SunGold tomato plants to verify what I already knew--they routinely have 10 to 12 flowers per cluster, and that is with only good old garden soil enriched with compost. Every now and then there will be a smaller cluster of only 5 or 6 flowers though--maybe about 15% of the time. My plants are 6' tall and producing like crazy, and I eat SunGolds by the handful while working in the garden. I've had dozens, if not hundreds, of ripe ones already this year, from just 3 SunGold plants.

    I don't think ethylene will help you in the way you want. It is my understanding that commercial growers use ethylene (or something related to it) to "speed up" ripening of tomatoes after they've been picked green for shipping purposes. The ethylene or whatever they use does force the supermarket tomatoes to "color up" and look ripe--but when you taste them, you discover a serious lack of flavor. So, I wouldn't bet ethylene will give you what you really want--tasty, home-grown tomatoes. I also think ethylene works best if used in a tented environment when used outside. Otherwise it disperses too quickly to really have the desired 'ripening' effect. And, since Sensa-Spray is sold and promoted as a spray for pre-blooming plants, you are taking a risk if you apply it again later after they start blooming, since you are using it for a non-labeled purpose.

    As far as the fruit being larger, I am not sure you can attribute that to the Sensa-Spray. Often, when a plant is still small and only has a few fruit on it, they will be larger than the fruit will be later on in the season when the plant has many, many more of them. Also, fruit size is highly variable, depending on moisture, soil fertility and temperatures.

    I'm not trying to discourage you from using the Sensa-Spray if you believe in it, but I am not sure it is the miracle solution they advertise it to be.

    I'm just you average home gardener, though. If you want the opinion of the true tomato experts, go over to the Tomato Forum here on Garden Web and pose your question to them. There are a lot of professional tomato growers there, some very serious hobby-growers, some tomato researchers/scientists, etc. I bet they would be happy to share with you their experiences using hormonal sprays like Sensa-spray. If nothing else, you could probably get a really lively discussion going!

    Happy Growing!

    Dawn

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