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Please Help: Discoloration and odd 'pattern' on leaves.

14 years ago

I am a first year gardener located in Rex, GA. (Zone 8, I believe)

I've looked through the forum (both the Disease and Pest and the Growing Tomatoes) and used the search option, and I am not sure I can figure out how to describe what my problem is. It may very well be in here somewhere, I'm probably just not describing it right.

I have also tried looking in a few books and on the internet. (I tried the "Tomato Problem Solver" from Texas A&M, "Vegetable MD Online" from Cornell University, and what feels like about 75 non-descript pages with the same list

of things that go wrong with Tomato plants.) I even tried going to my local extension service's web page to see if they had any information on growing tomatoes locally, they sent me to UGA's web page which has a bunch of really

tiny pictures. (I don't know anything about talking to my extension service, I have no idea what to ask them or how to ask them. So if I should do that, any tips would be great.)

So, feeling like I'm in WAY over my head... I very respectfully ask for any assistance in either identifying what is wrong with my tomato plants or letting me know that I am worrying for no reason at all. I am sorry if it's been asked a hundred times, or if it's nothing. Thank you in advance for your time. I assume I have made a ton of mistakes (or else there would be no problems), so I tried to condense everything into this post. I welcome any advice about everything, but I have already learned a lot in searching through the forums and know there are some things I probably should have done differently. :(

I selected container growing because of a number of factors one of the major ones was the wildlife (we see deer, raccoons, rabbits and foxes fairly often). I also thought it might be easier, but that hasn't really turned out to be the

case. Originally they were to go onto the back deck, but the Sun wasn't in the right place to provide full sun for 6-8 hours until recently. So every morning they go out next

to the driveway and then every night they come into the garage (there are no cars in it currently). Moving them every day has complicated a lot of my choices.

I went to a local retailer picked three that claimed to be determinate and/or good for containers and a beefsteak, which I knew was probably going to have a limited yield because it wouldn't be that thrilled to be in a pot. I don't can and I basically wanted to grow some tomatoes for salads, possibly some fresh salsa and the occasional BLT. I read a lot about how every tomato has a different flavor, so I think I got a little over excited about experimenting. It probably would have been better to just get one plant or maybe two.

I picked out the following :

Beefmaster (Hybrid Tomato) Indeterminate - V,F,N

Better Bush (Hybrid Tomato) Determinate - V, F, N

Patio (The Container Tomato) Determinate - F, A, St.

Bush Early Girl Determinate - V, F (1&2), N, T

The pots are clay, 14 inches across, and fairly deep (holding about 5 gallons of soil, although I now know this is on the small size) I used Miracle Gro "Organic Choice" Potting Mix and some Hyponex Potting Soil. When I tested it

with my soil tester, it came out between 6 and 7. We're in the middle of a pretty significant drought, and for a while the only rain we were getting always seemed to have high winds and a tornado warning. When that would happen we

brought them in, which may have been overreacting on my part but since they're portable I didn't see any reason to risk hail or wind damage.

I planted back in February, thinking we would have a mid March last frost date. It didn't come until the middle of April, but using this in and out of the garage routine there were 18 tomatoes harvested by the fourth of July (many of

them ripened in the middle of June). All of the first fruit from the Bush Early Girl was "catfaced" (I know we had one night where it was below 55 in the garage, so I attributed it to that), a sudden rain left me with one with radial cracks, and the stink bugs left one covered in cloudy spot. I sprayed twice for Aphids, using some Insecticidal Soap. I followed the directions on the bottle, so it wasn't until later that I read here that I should have rinsed the plants off. Thankfully they didn't seem to become photosensitive, I don't know if it's because I sprayed in the evening or if I

just got lucky. Mostly they were all over the Better Bush, but I sprayed all of them just to try and keep the population manageable. I assume that ideally there would be no aphids, but that seemed impossible to achieve to me. I have seen much fewer of them in the past month or so and have not sprayed.

At first I watered using a watering can, but once my tomato plants got taller I took to filling up a bucket with water and scooping water from the bucket with a glass jar to make sure I water down around the roots. I feed once a week with

all purpose miracle gro, and I try to take a reading of the nitrogen level with my electronic soil tester from time to time just to check. When I have been away, they have gotten watered with a hose and lately we've had some downpours

where the rain gauge got nearly three inches of rain, and the plants have been out in it. Just to mention it we also always have a ton of humidity unless it pours.

Also, the plants are around smokers, who smoke tobacco from a major company in North Carolina. I do not smoke, and I do most of the actual touching, but the smokers have helped me move them and have watered them at times. So I'm not going to be surprised if the diagnosis is TMV, in that case I just need to know what to do.

And since I started seeing this, I did have some BER. As soon as I increased the water (to compensate for the increase in temperature) I was giving them that went away. I removed about 6 tomatoes from my beefsteak, because I thought the plant would have an easier time fixing the problem if it had fewer fruit to worry about. I don't think it could be related to this problem, but in case it

could be or to give you an idea of how the plants are doing production-wise... I thought I would mention it.

I guess I first noticed some of the symptoms a month ago, I am not sure if I have two things going on or just one. The first thing I saw was this patchiness of white/grey discoloration. It doesn't seem to have any effect on the back of the leaves, and it doesn't feel like anything. (I ran my hands over it to see if it was raised and to check if it wasn't just something splattered on the plant.) I freaked out then, but the plant seemed pretty happy it had just set a ton of fruit and it didn't look like anything I had seen on the web or in books when I was trying to learn about tomatoes. Then very recently, I noticed that the

Bush Early Girl has a lot of yellowing in the leaves, but it's not edges or tips it's just splotchy and in the middle and all over. It has progressed over the week from being barely noticeable to being much of the leaves it is on.

The other three plants have a little bit of the grey/white thing going on. The Beefmaster has the most. I also have a Jalape plant which is showing some of the yellowing spots... that the Bush Early Girl has. I am even less knowledgeable about peppers, but that seems to me like another indicator that that part may be a virus of some kind.

Here are the pictures, if you need anything else just let me know and I will gladly take some more pictures. I also have

a scanner if it would be more useful to remove some of the leaves and scan them.

The Bush Early Girl is the one with the most things going on:

This White/Grey discoloration was the first thing I saw, and at first I thought it might be from being watered with the hose or all the rain and then as you can see blurred in the foreground the leaves started to get this light yellow and green blotches.


Here's a little better picture. That stem got broken at some point, it wasn't dead leaves. I haven't had much of that that wasn't obviously just undergrowth that had passed its' time. I try to stay on top of removing that. I also have

not pruned any of my plants, and I know it's not recommended for determinate plants but when i first noticed the grey/white thing on the leaves I removed a few branches... but it became obvious that doing that would result in almost no branches, so I stopped.


Because it's so low we cut the bottom off with a hacksaw and the legs of the "cage" are only about an inch into the soil. The weight of the plant leaning on it and the rim of the planter basically keeps it in place.


It has about 12 tomatoes on it. Which may not be as many as it should have on it, but it's more than before. Which was 5, and they're bigger this time.


On the beefmaster it's mostly on the bottom third of the plant and mostly on what i would consider the inside:


This one is a little higher up (this is basically what it looks like on the Patio and better Bush the very little it's on those) :


Here is a picture of what I decided was BER on one of the little Beefmaster Tomatoes just in case it was not:


The Beefmaster has 12 tomatoes on it, and some new flowers.

The Patio has 22 and the Better Bush has 25. (I have no idea if that's good or not, it seems like a lot of tomatoes to me.)

I feel like I should also mention that we are on a strict burn ban, so if the diagnosis is grim and I must destroy my plants... I hope there is something else I can do. And I will also need advice on sanitizing the pots.

Thank you again for looking. I really appreciate it.


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