TSWV resistance: Important for growing healthy tomatoes

Published 3:52 pm Monday, April 3, 2006

By Staff
Tomatoes are a favorite crop among home gardeners. They have always required a great deal of careful attention.
However beginning in about 1986, tomatoes in Alabama began to die in home gardens and commercial planting alike regardless of the level of care given them.
The cause of this wide spread damage was the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus.
This disease continues to be a major problem in not only tomatoes but peppers, and peanuts too.
Last year many acres of peanuts were devastated in Escambia and Monroe counties by TSWV.
The disease is transmitted in the gut of thrips, a tiny insect that feeds mostly in plant blooms.
Despite the fact that the disease is caused by thrips, the use of insecticides to manage the disease in home garden tomatoes is not recommended.
If you want to plant home garden tomatoes, and you plan on having at least one tomato sandwich to show for your efforts, you need to plant a TSWV resistant variety.
The varieties that I am aware of showing resistance are: Amelia, BHN 444, BHN 640, and a Roma tomato variety, Muriel.
There may be other varieties with TSWV resistance of which I am unaware, and your garden center personnel can guide you to them.
However, it is important that you clarify the disease resistance package you want.
Often when you mention disease resistant varieties of tomatoes to garden center personnel, they think of VF&N tomatoes.
This means that the plants resist infection from Verticilium and Fusarium wilts as well as Root Knot Nematodes.
Resistance to these other pathogens is important, and the varieties mentioned above are also resistant to most of these common diseases.
Some gardeners feel that the TSWV resistant varieties do not exhibit the taste or quality that a home-grown tomato should have, and they want to plant traditional varieties.
July plantings of fall ripening tomatoes have been much less affected by TSWV at the Auburn University Research Unit in Brewton.
This observation is consistent with other TSWV related research.
For this reason, I feel that gardeners that want to plant traditional tomato varieties are likely to improve there chances of a successful harvest if they plan on a fall tomato crop.
For more information regarding backyard tomato production go to www.aces.edu select publications and request ANR-302 Backyard Tomato Production.
While your there, check out our wide variety of helpful research based publications.
If you do not have internet access, call the Escambia County Extension office and request a copy be sent to you.