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11 Common Tomato Problems and Solutions

If you want the best harvest all year round, then knowing about Tomato Problems and Solutions in detail would be a good idea! Read on!

Don’t have any idea about Tomato Problems and Solutions? That’s what we are here for! Keep on reading to get all the information.

Learn about Growing Tomatoes In Pots here


Tomato Problems and Solutions

1. Few or Dropping Flowers

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“Few or dropping flowers” in tomato plants is a common issue that can significantly impact fruit production. When tomato plants fail to set an adequate number of flowers or experience flower drop, it can lead to reduced yield and affect overall plant health.

  • Extreme temperatures, especially high temperatures above 100°F (37°C) or low temperatures below 50°F (10°C), can hinder flower development and lead to flower drop.
  • Strong winds can damage delicate flowers and cause them to drop. Provide a windbreak or shield the plants from strong gusts using stakes, trellises, or garden netting.
  • High levels of nitrogen promote excessive foliage growth at the expense of flower production. Use a balanced fertilizer with a lower nitrogen content or switch to a fertilizer specifically formulated for fruiting plants.
  • Insufficient phosphorus can lead to poor flower development. Incorporate a phosphorus-rich fertilizer or bone meal into the soil before planting to ensure an adequate supply.
  • Certain pests, such as aphids or mites, can damage flowers and lead to flower drop. Monitor the plants regularly and take appropriate measures to control pest populations, such as using insecticidal soaps or natural predators.
  • Some diseases, like bacterial or fungal infections, can cause flower drop. Ensure proper sanitation, provide good air circulation, and use disease-resistant tomato varieties to minimize the risk.

Here are the Best Homemade Fertilizers for Tomatoes

2. Leaf Curl or Leaf Rolling

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Leaf curl or leaf rolling in tomato plants refers to the upward or downward curling of tomato leaves, which can hinder plant growth and reduce productivity.

  • Whiteflies can transmit viral diseases that result in leaf curling. Apply sticky traps, use reflective mulches, or consider introducing beneficial insects like parasitic wasps to control whitefly populations.
  • Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV). This viral disease causes severe leaf curling and stunted growth in tomato plants. Plant disease-resistant varieties, control whiteflies, and remove and destroy infected plants to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV). Another viral disease that can lead to leaf curling. Use disease-resistant varieties, control aphids, and practice good sanitation to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Exposure to herbicides, especially certain broadleaf weed killers, can cause leaf curling. Avoid using herbicides near tomato plants and take precautions to prevent drift from neighboring areas.
  • Inconsistent or improper watering practices can stress tomato plants, leading to leaf curling. Maintain regular and adequate watering, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings to avoid overwatering.
  • High levels of nitrogen can promote excessive vegetative growth and result in leaf curling. Use a balanced fertilizer with a lower nitrogen content and ensure that other essential nutrients are adequately supplied.
  • Insufficient calcium uptake can cause leaf curling or rolling. Amend the soil with calcium-rich materials like gypsum or lime and ensure proper soil pH for optimal nutrient availability.

Here are PRO Tricks to Grow the Tastiest Tomatoes in Your Garden

3. Sunscald

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Sunscald is a common issue in tomato plants that occurs when the fruits are exposed to excessive sunlight, leading to sunburn and damage. Sunscald typically appears as pale, bleached patches on the tomato skin, which can later become discolored, wrinkled, and susceptible to rot. 

  • Insufficient foliage cover can expose the fruits to direct sunlight. Prune tomato plants judiciously to maintain a healthy balance between foliage and fruit.
  • Consider providing temporary shade to the plants during peak sun hours by using shade cloth, umbrellas, or constructing a shade structure.
  • Harvest tomatoes when they are fully ripe or slightly underripe. Overripe tomatoes are more susceptible to sunscald, so it’s important to pick them before they become overripe and vulnerable to damage.

4. Wilting Plants

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Wilting tomato plants can be a distressing sight for any gardener, as it often indicates a significant issue affecting the plant’s health and vitality. Several factors can contribute to wilting in tomato plants, ranging from environmental stressors to pests and diseases.

  • Insufficient water supply is a common cause of wilting in tomato plants. Ensure that the plants receive an adequate amount of water, especially during dry periods or when grown in containers.
  • Excessive watering can lead to root rot and hinder proper oxygen exchange, causing wilting. Practice proper drainage and avoid overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.
  • High or low temperatures can cause wilting in tomato plants.
  • Apply a balanced fertilizer or an organic nitrogen-rich amendment following recommended application rates to address the deficiency.
  • Diseases such as root rot or fusarium wilt can damage the root system, leading to wilting.
  • Nematodes and other pests can attack the root system, impairing water uptake and causing wilting.
  • Improper handling during transplanting can lead to wilting. Minimize transplant shock by carefully handling the plants, avoiding damage to the roots, and providing proper post-transplant care, including sufficient water and protection from extreme weather conditions.

This 2-Second Tomato Tip Can Increase the Productivity Of Tomato Plants

5. Powdery Mildew

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Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that commonly affects tomato plants, causing a powdery white or grayish coating on the leaves, stems, and fruit. If left untreated, it can weaken the plant, reduce yield, and affect overall plant health.

  • Ensure adequate spacing between tomato plants to promote good airflow and reduce humidity, which can discourage powdery mildew development.
  • Regularly prune and thin out dense foliage to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration into the plant canopy, which helps keep the leaves dry and minimizes favorable conditions for powdery mildew growth.
  • Remove and destroy any infected plant material, including fallen leaves or fruits, to prevent the spread of the disease. Do not compost infected plant debris.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of liquid soap, and 1 gallon of water. Spray this solution on the affected parts of the plant, ensuring thorough coverage. Repeat every 1-2 weeks until the disease is under control.
  • Neem oil has antifungal properties and can help manage powdery mildew. Dilute neem oil according to the instructions and spray the affected areas of the tomato plants. Apply every 7-14 days as needed.
  • Mix 1 part milk with 9 parts water and spray it on the affected plant parts. The proteins in milk have antifungal properties and can help suppress powdery mildew.
  • Blend 2-3 garlic cloves with a quart of water, strain the mixture, and dilute with additional water. Spray this solution on the affected plants to help control powdery mildew.

Here are 10 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Powdery Mildew

6. Puffiness

Puffiness in tomatoes, also known as puffing or puffing up, refers to the abnormal swelling or bulging of the fruit, giving it a distorted appearance. This condition is often caused by physiological factors that affect fruit development. While it doesn’t affect the taste or edibility of the tomatoes, it can impact their appearance.

  • Provide balanced nutrition to the tomato plants by using a complete fertilizer formulated for vegetables. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization, as it can contribute to puffiness.
  • Harvest tomatoes at the appropriate stage of ripeness. Delayed harvest can sometimes contribute to puffiness.

7. Brown Spots on the Foliage

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Brown spots on the foliage of tomato plants can be indicative of various issues, including diseases, nutrient deficiencies, pests, or environmental stress. Identifying the specific cause is crucial in determining the appropriate solution.

  • Early blight (Alternaria solani): This fungal disease causes brown spots with concentric rings on the leaves. Remove and destroy infected plant material, provide good air circulation, and use fungicides containing copper or chlorothalonil according to label instructions.
  • Late blight (Phytophthora infestans): Late blight can cause large, irregularly shaped brown spots on leaves. Remove and destroy infected plants immediately, use fungicides containing copper or mancozeb, and practice good sanitation to prevent disease spread.
  • Magnesium deficiency can cause brown spots between leaf veins. Apply magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) as a foliar spray or incorporate it into the soil to address the deficiency.
  • Tomato hornworms can chew on tomato leaves, causing irregularly shaped brown spots. Handpick and remove the pests, and use organic insecticides or biological controls to manage their populations.
  • Spider mites can suck sap from tomato plants, leading to stippling or bronzing of leaves, which may appear as brown spots. Regularly inspect the undersides of leaves, control mite populations using insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils, and ensure proper humidity to discourage mite infestations.

We have a great article on how to use Epsom salt for tomatoes here

8. Bulls Eye Circle

The presence of bulls-eye circles on tomatoes typically indicates a common fungal disease called target spot (Corynespora cassiicola). This disease manifests as circular, concentric rings on the fruit, resembling a bull’s eye or target.

Reasons:

  • Target spot is caused by the fungus Corynespora cassiicola. It thrives in warm and humid conditions, making it more prevalent in regions with high humidity. The fungus spreads through water splashes, wind, or contact with infected plant material. It can survive on plant debris, in the soil, or on other host plants.

Solutions:

  • Promote good air circulation around the tomato plants by providing adequate spacing between them. This helps reduce humidity and creates an unfavorable environment for fungal growth.
  • In severe cases, or if the disease persists despite cultural practices, consider applying fungicides. Choose a fungicide labeled for target spot control and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and frequency. Copper-based or chlorothalonil-containing fungicides are commonly used for fungal diseases in tomatoes.

9. Poor Fruit Set

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  • Tomatoes require adequate pollination for fruit set. Ensure the presence of pollinators like bees and butterflies in your garden. If pollinators are scarce, gently shake the plants to release pollen, or consider hand pollination by transferring pollen from one flower to another using a small brush or your fingertip.
  • Nutrient deficiencies or imbalances can affect fruit sets. Maintain balanced nutrition by providing appropriate fertilization. Use a balanced fertilizer formulated for vegetables and follow recommended application rates. Ensure adequate levels of phosphorus and potassium, which promote flowering and fruit development.

Read the Number One Technique to Produce Sweeter Tomatoes here

10. Cracking and Deformed Tomatoes

  • Irregular watering, particularly sudden fluctuations between dry and wet conditions, can cause tomatoes to crack.
  • When tomatoes experience rapid growth, the skin may not have enough time to stretch, resulting in cracking or deformation. Avoid overfertilizing with nitrogen-rich fertilizers, as excessive vegetative growth can contribute to rapid fruit expansion.
  • Some tomato varieties are more prone to cracking and deformities than others. Here are some crack-resistant tomato varieties – Celebrity, Mountain Fresh Plus, Mountain Merit, Super Sweet 100, Sungold, Jetsetter, Mountain Spring, and Defiant.
  • Harvest tomatoes at the appropriate stage of ripeness. Overripe tomatoes are more prone to cracking. Monitor your plants closely and harvest when the tomatoes reach their desired maturity.

Watch out for these 13 Mistakes When Growing Tomatoes

11. Pest Issues

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1. Tomato Hornworms:

  •  Symptoms: Large, green caterpillars feeding on leaves and stems.
  • Solutions: Handpick and destroy hornworms, encourage beneficial insects like wasps and ladybugs, and use organic insecticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) if necessary.

Learn How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms here

2. Tomato Fruitworms:

  • Symptoms: Holes or tunnels in fruits, usually near the stem.
  • Solutions: Handpick and destroy affected fruits, and use organic insecticides like Spinosad or pyrethrin if necessary.

3. Tomato Aphids:

  • Symptoms: Clusters of small, soft-bodied insects on new growth, yellowing leaves.
  • Solutions: Spray plants with a strong jet of water to dislodge aphids, introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings, and use insecticidal soap or neem oil as a natural control method.

4. Tomato Russet Mites:

  • Symptoms: Tiny mites that cause bronzing, stunting, and distorted growth. Prune and discard heavily infested plant parts.
  • Solutions: Apply horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps to control mite populations.

Here are the Best Organic Pest Control Approaches Every Gardener Should Know

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