In my area of Texas, tomato plants that are sold have the letters VFN on their tags. That stands for fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, and nematodes. Plants that have VFN are resistant to those problems. But what exactly are those things?
Fusarium wilt is found virtually everywhere in the world. It is a fungus that infects the vascular system of the stem. As it clogs things up, the leave and stem turn yellow, then brown. The infection enters through the roots and spreads rapidly. There is no treatment, so it is important to plant tomatoes that are resistant to this disease.
Verticillum wilt is also a problem in tomatoes. Leaves begin wilting at the leaf margins, then turn yellow, then brown. The plants are stunted and sad looking. Watering does not help the wilting. Again, there is nothing you can do but plant disease resistant tomatoes.
Nematodes are little worms that infest different parts of plants. Most are tiny and hard to see. The most common in this area is root knot nematodes. These creatures infest the root, causing galls and scaring that prevent the root from doing its’ job and absorbing water and nutrients to fuel the plant. Crop rotation is important here, because planting susceptible crops year after year increases the likelihood of trouble. Planting resistant varieties and rotating crops helps.
These three diseases can really destroy your tomatoes. Be sure that the ones you buy are labeled VFN.
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