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Walnut Wilt on Tomatoes

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Date: June 5, 2020
Agent: Donna Teasley

Hello, this is Donna Teasley, Horticulture Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative
Extension, Burke center.

Tomatoes are the number one plant grown in American gardens. Everyone loves to have some nice ripe tomatoes for summer eating. But, for all it’s popularity, it sure can be a picky plant to grow. Tomatoes are susceptible to many diseases and plenty of insects but we still love to grow them. Here is western North Carolina we have hot temperatures and high humidity and these conditions bring out lots of problems for tomato growers. But there is one disease out there called walnut wilt that can be prevented by the gardener who likes his tomatoes better than his black walnuts.

Walnut wilt occurs in gardens that have black walnut trees growing close by. These trees give off a toxin called juglone through the roots, leaves and nuts. Juglone prevents plants from growing close to the walnut tree and competing for water and nutrients. As the tree grows, the roots grow also, spreading out at least three times farther than the drip line of the tree. Gardens can eventually become affected by the toxins. Tomatoes are the most susceptible, looking healthy and green one day, wilted and dying the next. Removal of the tree is the only solution but it takes about two years for toxins to leave the soil. So, for some gardeners, there is a choice to be made-tomatoes or walnuts? The decision is yours.

This is Donna Teasley with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke Center. If you would like more information about this program, you can call us at 439-4460.