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Tomato Plant Diseases

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Let us discuss about some of the tomato diseases:

Fungal diseases:

Tomatoes can be affected by fungi, which nourish in soil. Fusarium and Vertiicillium are two of the soil-borne fungi that can cause vascular sag diseases in tomatoes. These water conducting tissues of the plant help in the growth of these fungi. As a result, the stem of the plant will start changing its color to brown. And since, the vessels will get damaged, the leaves will not be able to get the nourishment from them and start turning yellow and shrivel. The plant will soon die because of the lack of nourishment. Though the diseases cannot be cured, but they can be prevented. In fact, the instances of these diseases have been observed more in the non-resistant varieties of the tomatoes. One of the effective ways to prevent such diseases are to buy resistant varieties of seeds or plants, rotate the crops that you grow on the same piece of land, avoid planting potatoes or tomatoes in the same area for more number of years and remove or destroy the plants which have been effected by diseases.

Virus borne diseases:
A very popular and increasing problem in harvesting tomatoes in the garden is a deadly virus known as TSWV (Tomato spotted wilt virus). Common symptoms of the plant getting affected by this virus are the dark spots that start appearing on the leaves and spread through the stems and form cankers. The leaves start bronzing and the plant stops growing. You can also observe patterns of yellow spots and rings on the fruits. Such plants should be immediately destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading.
There is no cure for the disease. An insect known as western flower thrips is the major cause of spreading this virus. Weeds act as host plants for this insect and hence their use should be optimized in the surrounding areas of the vegetable garden. You should be careful while buying the seeds as they should be free from virus and plant varieties that should be resistive to TSWV.
Tobacco Mosaic Virus is another deadly virus, which can cause crinkling and mottling of plants. The symptoms can be observed in fruits when you cut them open and see them turning brown from inside. This disease is spread when the plant comes in direct contact of the products containing tobacco or the tools, clothing or hands of people who have consumed the tobacco products. Therefore, you should take enough care and while handling the plants especially if you are a smoker. Wash your hands before harvesting such plants and also choose the plants with a ‘T’ label which indicates the higher resistivity of the plant towards the tobacco mosaic virus. Also, the affected plants should be destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease.
Other diseases that can be caused by sprinkling of soil on the leaves are Septoria leaf spot and Early Blight. Though they are less observed in dry climate, they can be prevented by avoiding excess watering of the plants.
Insects can also create a lot of problems in tomatoes. Hornworms are the most popular ones. Though these caterpillars are small in size, they can destroy the plants from the top. They can be easily removed and controlled by using insecticides such as Sevin, rotenone or Bacillus thuringiensis.
Aphids are the insects which can be found below the leaves and easily identified by the honeydew that they produce. They harm the plants by sucking the juices. However, they can be easily controlled by using an insecticidal soap.
Another category of insects that have grown recently are the Psyllids. They also suck the juices of the plants and cause the plants to turn yellow. The growth of the plants is ceased and no fruits are produced. Such insects can also be controlled by an insecticidal soap.  Flew Beetles destroy the plants by creating holes in the leaves.
Environmental problems:
Tomatoes may also be affected by the environment. A water-soaked spot may appear as a result of the blossom end rot. Initially, it appears near the blossom end, but as it grows, it turns black, hollow and gristly. The major reason behind this is the lack of calcium availability. Improper irrigation or existence of dry weather for a long time can cause fluctuations in soil moisture that can cause calcium imbalance. Other causes include high levels of nitrogen fertilizers and the root systems getting disrupted. The blossom end rot can be prevented by appropriate use of nitrogen and maintaining the moisture. Weeds can also be controlled by mulching that can prevent the roots from damaging.
Catfacing is another problem that can be caused due to abnormal weather conditions during blossom time. It can be observed on the blossom end and results in the fruit getting wrinkled.

Sudden exposure of direct sunlight to fruits in a dry weather can cause sunscald which can result in the formation of yellow patches on the tomato sides exposed to sun. However, it can be prevented by keeping the plant in shade and protecting them from direct sunlight exposure.
Rapid growth can cause cracks. Radial and concentric are the two types of growth cracks which can affect the end of the stem of tomatoes. Circular cracks are developed around the fruit stem end by concentric cracking while radial cracking affects the stem scar.
Rainy and cool weather can cause a physiological distortion in the leaves called as Leaf roll. As a result, the lower leaves roll upward and become thick and gristly. However, it does not have any effect on the growth of plants or production of fruits.
Herbicides can also deform the fruits and plants of tomatoes. The leaves get damaged by bending and even new leaves do not expand fully. Fruits may not ripen properly. This may happen when lawns are exposed to herbicides for controlling the weeds. Even though you treat, the effect can still exist because of the fumes. You should take care and water the plants regularly.

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