Fw: Tomato transplants damping off in the field

Bill Shoemaker wshoemak at inil.com
Tue May 14 09:14:13 EDT 2002



Marlin

    What you are experiencing sounds a lot like Phytophtera Blight. This organism attacks the plant at the soil line. It infects the plant in a ring around the stem. The tissue becomes dark and soft. The plant is effectively girdled and dies. Rotation is an important part of keeping this disease under control. If your compost was not completely degraded, pathogens could survive in it. If you used tomato, pepper or potato plant material in it, the pathogens could have come from there, even if the plants that you composted didn't look diseased. This is one of the reasons the compost process needs to be nurtured carefully and thoroughly before the compost is used. 

    Some interesting comments came through the forum. Some of the teas might be helpful for those plants not yet infected. The idea of using a "handful of fertilizer" at the base of the plants is probably not good, even if organic. Often, a handful of fertilizer is to a plant what a bottle of vodka is to you and me, especially if the fertilizer has a high analysis. It's better to just make sure the soil has appropriate fertility before planting. Use a liquid starter fertilizer to give the transplants the proper boost. The liquid disperses into the soil where dry fertilizer remains concentrated around the base of the plant.

    Also, the problem of the plant being rubbed by the plastic and damaged is a real one. Making larger holes and planting properly helps, as does covering the edges of the hole with soil (HINT: Use this technique with clear plastic mulch and the weeds won't grow underneath the mulch. Try this on melons and you'll see them come in earlier than on other mulches). 

    Anyone from Angelic Organics subscribed here? Send me a private email, tell me how John's doing.

Bill Shoemaker
Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
Univ of Illinois - St Charles Hort Research Center

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