Tomato Disease Identification

Use the following set of pictures to help with your tomato disease identification and click on photos for more information on symptoms, causes, and natural remedies. If you're still unsure, read through the complete list which also includes less common tomato diseases.

Anthracnose tomato disease blossom-end rot in tomatoes tomato catface chlorosis virus in tomatoes crown rot disease in tomatoes damping-off tomato disease early blight tomato disease fusarium wilt tomato disease gray leaf spot tomato disease late blight tomato disease leaf mold tomato disease powdery mildew tomato disease pythium tomato disease septoria leaf spot tomato disease stemphylium tomato disease sunscald tomato disease tobacco mosaic virus tomato disease tomato spotted wilt virus tomato disease verticillium wilt tomato disease

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Descriptions of Common Tomato Diseases

Bacterial Canker

  • Symptoms
    • seedlings die or produce weak, stunted plants
    • wilting, curling and browning of leaves
    • leaf rolling
    • later bird's-eye spots on fruit - whitish-brown spots with a white halo and raised dark brown center
  • Cause
    • contaminated seedbed soil
    • infected seeds
  • Control
    • one of the most difficult to control tomato diseases
    • use only treated seed
    • rotate crops
    • don't add old tomato or potato fruits or their foliage into soil

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Bacterial Spot

  • Symptoms
    • Infected leaves show dark lesions
    • Yellowing leaves
    • Blossom drop
    • small, dark, slightly raised dots with a water-soaked border quarter-inch in diameter
    • center of spot is slightly sunken with a rough surface
    • is similar to Bacterial Speck but actually a different bacteria
  • Causes
    • ripe fruit is not affected
    • may be carried by tomato seed
    • carried by windblown soil or insects
    • sometimes present on transplants produced in southern U.S.
    • spread by wind-blown rain
  • Control
    • same as for bacterial canker
    • Use disease-free seed from western states or hot-water treated seed
    • rotate crops from year-to-year
    • Apply a mixture of mancozeb plus copper during early flowering and fruit setting periods

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Bacterial Wilt Tomato Disease Identification

  • Symptoms
    • Tomato disease with no visible spotting or yellowing of leaves
    • Stems at ground level may be water-soaked and emit slimy ooze when pressed
    • Often called brown rot
    • rapidly kills entire plant
  • Controls
    • don't grow tomatoes in the same spot for 4 to 5 years
    • Grow seedlings only in pasteurized soil
    • destroy all diseased plants
    • grow disease-resistant varieties like Venus

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Buckeye Rot Tomato Disease Identification

  • Symptoms
    • Water-soaked brown or grayish-green spots near blossom end
    • Spots located where fruit touches the soil
  • Causes
    • A disease that only affects tomatoes
  • Controls
    • Have soil with good drainage
    • Don't wet plants when watering
    • Stake so fruits don't contact soil
    • Don't plant tomatoes in same spot every year - instead, rotate crops

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Cloudy Spot Tomato Disease Identification

  • Symptoms
    • Blemishes on green or ripe fruit
    • Spots are one-eighth to one-quarter cream colored spots
    • As fruit matures spot color changes to yellow
  • Causes
    • Stink bug feeding
  • Controls
    • Use weed control strategies where stink bugs live
    • Hand pick insects from plants

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Cucumber Mosaic

  • Symptoms
    • Stunted growth of young plants
    • One of many tomato diseases that is shared with other plants
    • Odd stringy shoestring-type leaves
  • Causes
    • Virus spread by aphids
    • Not seed borne like tobacco mosaic
  • Controls
    • control aphids
    • separate plants from nearby weeds, flowers, cucumbers, melons, or peppers
    • Keep virus hosts phlox, petunias, hollyhock and zinnias at a distance

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Curly Top Tomato Disease Identification

  • Symptoms
    • This tomato disease exhibits leaves that are curly and twist upward
  • Causes
    • Is a virus spread by leafhopper insects
  • Controls
    • Eliminate leafhoppers
    • Reduce plant spacing more than normal
    • Don't plant beets nearby
    • Plant late varieties rather than early varieties

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Double Virus Streak

  • Symptoms
    • A tomato disease typified by dead areas in leaves that form along the leaf veins
    • Brown streaks along main stem
    • Dry shrunken spots on green fruits
  • Causes
    • Mosaic viruses
  • Controls
    • Suppress weed growth around tomato plants
    • Avoid handling tobacco before handling plants
    • Rinse your hands in a water/milk solution
    • Spray plants with a 50-50 solution of water/milk

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Ghost Spot Tomato Disease Identification

  • Symptoms
    • Fruit has small white circles surrounding a green center
    • First spots appear on shoulders of green tomatoes
  • Causes
    • Fungus
  • Controls
    • Avoid planting in cool, damp conditions
    • Rotate crop every year

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Gray Mold Rot (aka Botrytis Blight)

  • Symptoms
    • First symptom is gray spots on leaves and black marks on stems
    • Occurs mainly in greenhouses
    • Fruit has gray-green or gray-brown decayed spots
    • Is a major cause of rot of plant produce in tomatoes and other vegetables
  • Causes
    • Fungus Botrytis cinerea
    • Airborne fungus attaches to injured tissues
    • In greenhouses conditions of high humidity and cool conditions predispose
  • Controls
    • Fungicides will help protect but will not suppress and established infection
    • Treat the crop with fungicides before infections build up
    • Lower humidity and raise temperature   

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Graywall Tomato Disease Identification

  • Symptoms
    • Blotchy ripe fruit
    • Fruit has internal brown areas
  • Causes
    • Unknown, insufficient sunlight suspected
  • Controls
    • Plant in a sunnier spot
    • Don't over-fertilize with nitrogen which promotes excessive foliage cover

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Hard Core

  • Symptoms
    • Hard centers in ripe fruit
  • Causes
    • Temperature fluctuations, esp. low night temperatures
  • Controls
    • Discourage this condition and other tomato diseases by providing warmer, more consistent growing temperatures using frost protection techniques

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Leaf Roll and Leaf Curl

  • Symptoms
    • Curling/rolling/dropping of leaves, usually stops after temperatures rise
    • Not one of the serious tomato diseases--usually clears up once temperatures warm
  • Causes
    • Physiological disease
    • Wet spring weather
    • Poor soil drainage
    • Close cultivation
    • Over pruning
  • Controls
    • Plant in well-drained soil
    • Use straw mulch
    • Don't stake or prune plants

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Nailhead Spot Tomato Disease Identification

  • Symptoms
    • Fruits have smallish tan or brown spots
  • Causes
    • See early blight for causes and controls of this tomato disease
  • Controls
    • Plant resistant varieties

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Potato Y Virus

  • Symptoms
    • Yellowing of younger leaves
    • Wilting plants
    • Purple streaks on stems
  • Causes
    • Virus transmitted from potatoes by aphids
  • Controls
    • Control aphids
    • Don't plant tomatoes near potatoes

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Soil Rot Tomato Disease Identification

  • Symptoms
    • Fruits have small brown circular spots on lower half
    • As fruits ripen, spots diminish but decayed areas enlarge and split
  • Causes
    • A fungus harbored in the soil
  • Controls
    • Stake or cage plants, keep fruit off ground
    • Remove any decayed or infected plant material
    • Have well drained soil

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Other good web resources on tomato diseases


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