Tomato leaf curl also called Leaf roll can be described as when the tomato leaves curl up and then inwards in, but sometimes they can curl down as well thereby growing into irregular, not well-formed shapes.
They also appear small having stunted growth with some yellowing around the edges or even blistering on the surface of leaves.
Tomato leaf curl is not a disease on its own but is rather a symptom of something that’s attacking the plant.
Tomato leaf curl or leaf roll can be caused by either a virus infection or by herbicide residue or damage.
Additionally, reaction to environmental stress factors like excess moisture, temperature, nitrogen, hot and dry conditions, severe pruning, excess wind, root damage, transplant shock, etc. is some of the environmental factors that can cause physiological leaf roll in tomatoes.
This viral infection tampers with the overall growth of the plant as it becomes stunted while with the reaction to the environment, the plant is like human hiding from war and can later return and push life.
The environmental reaction, however, allows the leaves to remain normal and if corrected can grow back again while the virus infection makes leaves lose their physiological nature or form and can easily make them yellow, and give them a rough texture that looks shiny.
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Meanwhile, to eliminate tomato leaf curl or leaf roll infection, you should destroy the tomato plant leaf curl infected plants to prevent any further transmission to those nearby.
Prevention is the key to managing tomato leaf curl, therefore I would recommend that you plant only resistant varieties.
Also, ensure to keep your garden rows tidy, uncongested, and free from weeds which often attract these pests to protect your garden plants from possible white-fly infestations and other possible pest attacks that can lead to this infection.
You can also use chemical methods to do away with flies, like traps and harmful chemicals.
But above all, always pay close attention to your garden plants as careful observation will help you detect the infection faster to enable you to act more quickly before it gets worse.
Therefore, the first the moment you see the leaf curl changing the leaf nature (yellowing and becoming crumpy), then you know it’s an infection and starts acting on the control measures immediately to avoid further spread among other plants.
If it happens to be a mere leaf roll where they still look normal but rolled up then it’s a defense mechanism and sometimes uncommonly the mites (although with these you will see leaves like rusting on the underside and mostly young leaves).
However, if the curl is due to a pest infestation, the effect will be irregularly distributed and it is usually an infection that spreads evenly.
Don’t forget a variety may be resistant to one virus and not to the other! we have different viral disorders and infections.
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Now let us look at how to identify the particular factor that caused the infection through its signs and symptoms below:
Physiological Leaf Roll and Preventive Measures
Physiological leaf roll in tomatoes can be caused by excessive moisture and nitrogen, heat, drought, severe pruning, root damage, and transplant shock, etc.
Intermediate vine tomato varieties often exhibit more physiological leaf roll than the determinate bush tomato varieties as discovered by research.
Meanwhile, although this condition can occur at any time of the growing season, it usually occurs more often as spring weather shifts to summer.
However, it has been discovered that the condition has minimal impact on tomato fruit production and tomato plant growth.
Physiological leaf roll can however be controlled by the following procedures:
- By properly hardening off tomato seedlings before planting in the garden, maintaining a consistent moisture level in the soil.
- By avoiding over-fertilization, excessive pruning, and root damage during cultivation.
Viral Infections and Preventive Measures
Some viral infections from pests like white-flies also cause leaf rolling in tomatoes and infected, new leaves become cupped and pale green.
This infection will cause the entire plant to have stunted growth, yellowing leaf edges, purplish veins, and low yield in fruit production.
Another virus, Tomato mosaic virus, causes the rolling of leaves, but other symptoms, including mottled-coloring of leaves, small leaflets, and internal browning of infected fruit, distinguish it from physiological or herbicide-induced leaf roll.
There is no treatment for virus-infected plants, however, they can be controlled using the following methods:
- Remove and destroy the infected plants of plants are recommended.
- Control weeds around the garden to reduce virus transmission by insects.
- Disinfect any tool that has come into contact with diseased plants.
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For infections caused by herbicide damage, symptoms include downward rolling of leaves and twisted growth.
In addition, stems may also turn white and split while fruits may be deformed which depends on the level of exposure, and at this stage, the plant may or may not survive.
Herbicide damage is a frequent cause of leaf curl is a frequent symptom and should be prevented at all costs.
Symptoms like downward bending of the petioles and cupping of the leaf segments (leaflets) are the common symptoms of herbicide damage and new growth is usually the first to be affected.
Regarding its control measures, herbicide injury cannot be reversed, but if the plant is not killed, new growth may be normal.
Therefore I will recommend that you always be very careful when spraying an herbicide, as it may drift much further than anticipated and may cause so much harm to your tomato plants.
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List of some other tomato viruses that can cause tomato yellow leaf curl
• Chino del tomato virus
• Tomato leaf crumple virus
• Pepper huasteco virus
• Potato yellow mosaic virus
• Sinaloa tomato leaf curl virus
• Texas pepper virus
• Tomato yellow mosaic virus
• Tomato yellow streak virus
However, new tomato varieties have been developed to be resistant to a majority of these viral diseases at once but not all and the salvage solution is to prevent before facing these!
This is where I will be rounding up our discussion for today.
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