Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown by gardeners. They are dependable in producing fruit. Many can be grown in containers so that people with limited space can still enjoy a fresh tomato.

There can be some concerns along the way to getting a ripe tomato. Insects, diseases and physiological concerns can have an impact on production. Even with the many situations that may occur, tomatoes are still prolific.

Physical leaf roll is observed around the time when spring turns to summer. Tomato leaves reduce their exposure to moisture loss while the roots expand to support the growing conditions. The same condition can be observed in waterlogged soil or after root damage from cultivation. It is a temporary condition for a week until the tomato adjusts.

Blossom end rot occurs on the first fruits of tomatoes and other vegetables like squash and melons. This condition is easily recognized by the flat, leathery area on the blossom end of the fruit. It is the result of a calcium deficiency in the blossom-end of the fruit. As the root system of the plant grows during the season, it is able to support the developing fruit and the condition will go away.

The Tobacco or Tomato hornworm is often an insect to be managed. As the insect grows, leaves are consumed and dark green or black droppings are left behind. The insect has a horn but is still hard to notice. Picking the hornworm off is common practice. Insecticides are available and only practical for large numbers of tomato plants.

Diseases that affect the leaves and fruit are common with our typical weather conditions in the summer. Black and brown spots developing are often symptoms of our two most common diseases. Prevention is good with adequate air flow between plants and keeping water off of the leaves when watering. A fungicide can be applied to reduce the problem.

There are many other situations that can develop that influence tomatoes. Even with all the issues, they are still a dependable productive garden crop. Pictures and additional resources are available at our “Common Plant Problems in Kansas” website: https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/info-center/plant-pest-problems.html.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at www.riley.ksu.edu. Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: geyestone@ksu.edu.

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