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Tomato leaf issue - help!

We planted several heirloom tomatoes that are growing like gangbusters - almost 6 feet tall already! But 2 of the plants in particular started to brown around the edges as if they'd been burnt with a match..then the leaves turned yellow, and then the entire branch of leaves... There are some long (1/2-1 inch) oblong spots on the stems, so I'm thinking it might be some type of speck? But there are no real spots anywhere else - just burned edges, and then dead branches. The fruit seems unaffected. I'm in Los Angeles, so it's hot and dry, and we've been watering every 3 days or so... I'm a gardening newbie, so any help is appreciated.

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  1. Seem like it might be 'salt burn' or over fertilizing.

    1. There are myriad fungal diseases that affect tomatoes and many look similar. Take a couple of leaves in a closed Ziploc-type bag to your local knowledgeable garden center (not a big box store) or ask your local agricultural extension service for guidance.

      1. It might be verticillium wilt...I would have guessed soil nutrition deficiency but the stem spots bother me.

        If it's this, there's not a lot you can do, except to make sure to buy disease resistant strains (with V or F after the name, meaning they resist a couple of kinds of wilt).

        Now, that said, I'm in the Northeast....if you have a garden center you frequent with wise folks working there, pluck off a leaf and bring it to them (or snap a pic) and describe what's going on. It's been rainy and cool til recently in Mass...unlike LA!

        1. Ah, heirlooms, overrated. I had the same thing happen a couple years ago with the rainy weather and some sorta blight that migrated from the soil. 6 feet tall? Bene!

          5 Replies
          1. re: BiscuitBoy

            Most heirloom tomatoes have little disease resistance and may not grow vigorously. However, hope is on the horizon. You can now buy a few types of heirlooms like Brandywine grafted onto very strong vf resistant rootstocks. These were pricey ($10 pots) at RCSS in Ontario, but it's easy to find grafting instructions on the web. Not difficult, just finicky. I am going to do some next year as a late winter indoor project to get the seedlings going.

            1. re: jayt90

              Yeah I saw a story about that from the NYTimes, interesting

              1. re: jayt90

                I have four tomato plants in containers on my deck. One is a grafted Mighty Mato San Marzano--by far outshining all other tomato plants, planted in the same soil, purchased at the same time from the same place.

                http://mightymato.com/

                Rock on, Mighty Matos!

                1. re: jayt90

                  I'm a newbie gardener, but I love most heirlooms, so i've got three grafted varieties going this year -- one Mortgage Lifter, one Black Krim, and one Roma. The first two are growing like gangbusters, and I've even got one fruit on the Krim (I got a late start due to a cold spring).

                  So far my plants are doing quite well.

                  1. re: JonParker

                    I'm jealous. Black Krim tomatoes are edible art. So gorgeous.

                    I have two baby plum tomatoes (actually more grape tomato sized) that are struggling to ripen on the vine (Tinkerbell); so far, this is the only fruit on four plants, but I'm hopeful that things will pop once we get some sun. The wet weather in the NE has devastated my little garden.

                1. re: sparrowgrass

                  That is a great vegetable garden resource! Thank you for posting.

                  Jerseygirl111