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Tomato Disease in Arkansas

Have you noticed problems with your tomato plants this year? The following information may help you.

Nashville, Ark. – Tomatoes are grown by most home gardeners in Arkansas and are commercially produced primarily in the southeastern and other parts of the state. Tomatoes suffer from numerous diseases and are regarded as among the most sensitive plants to herbicide drift injury.

            Serious tomato diseases in Arkansas are caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and nematodes. Plant viruses are somewhat similar to viruses that attack humans and animals, in that they must use infected host cells to reproduce and cannot survive independently. Plant viruses are too small to see with even the most powerful light microscopes but can be detected with antibody-based or molecular tests using plant material. These tests can be done by our Plant Health Clinic on samples sent in by our office. In some years, plant viruses may be the most important diseases of tomatoes in Arkansas, resulting in near total loss for some growers.

Bacterial diseases are also widespread in the state and are often favored by the warm, wet spring or early summer weather in Arkansas. Bacteria are single celled organisms visible only by high-powered microscopes and are among the most common microorganisms on earth. Most bacteria are beneficial, but a few species can cause diseases in plants or animals.

            Fungi are very diverse micro organisms that can be seen with either low-powered or high-powered microscopes, depending on the species.

            Although single celled, most fungi form filaments (hyphae) or other structures composed of many cells. Mushrooms are commonly observed fungal structures, for example. Most fungi are also considered beneficial, but some species can cause disease, primarily in plants.

            Nematodes are microscopic roundworms and live almost everywhere. Nematodes can be parasites of both plants and animals; plant nematodes are generally associated with the soil and roots of plants. Nematode problems can be difficult to diagnose, and suspect soil must be sent to the Nematode Diagnostic Laboratory for identification of a particular nematode. Because of the difficulty involved in analyzing soil samples, a small fee is charged for this service.

The viruses, bacteria, fungi and nematodes that attack tomatoes cannot infect humans or animals – they have adapted to live only on plants. You may have noticed some of these problems on your tomato plants this year, especially with all the rain we have received so far.

For more information, you can visit, or send an email to Howard County Extension office is still working and is there for all the residents in Howard County during this time.

By Samantha Kroll
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Samantha Kroll
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.