6 Easy Ways To Treat Tomato Leaf Curling

Tomatoes have been the most consumed and in-demand crop all around the year. That’s why the proper growth of tomato plants is essential for people growing them at homes, gardeners, and farming at the industrial level.

Today, this world has thousands of solutions for almost every problem in everyday daily life. The tomato crop is considered one of the most economically important crops of all those in the world. When it comes to the health of a tomato plant, Tomato leaf curl is one of the most common problems that every gardener faces. If treated on time, your tomato plant can be saved from further curling of tomato leaves. Also, you can prevent the leaf curling in the other growing leaves and tomato crop by giving proper care right now.

Why does the tomato plant leaf curl?

The curling or turning yellow of the tomato plant leaves indicates that the plant is undergoing a specific type of unfavorable stress. These stresses can be environmental, chemical, or even biological, resulting in the tomato leaves curling as a sign of undesirable outcomes.

ENVIRONMENTAL OR PHYSIOLOGICAL STRESS

Environmental stress is the most commonly occurring type of stress causing a tomato plant leaf to curl and affecting the adequate growth of a tomato plant [1].

WaterWater either causes excess or drought to a tomato plant, making a tomato plant grow improperly.
Hot TemperatureIt causes tomato leaves to curl. Typically, tomato plants require anywhere between six to eight hours of sunlight a day, and these need to be under full sun. This is one of the most overlooked issues when it comes to tomato plant care.
Excessive Nitrogen IntakeTomatoes typically need 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre. More than that will cause tomato leaf curl.
Root InjuryIn some cases, root injury to a tomato plant is also a reason for insufficient nutrition supply and improper growth throughout the structure of a tomato plant hence leaf curling.

Physiological leaf curl occurs when the tomato plant has vigorous top growth and inadequate root growth. Usually, the older leaves will show signs first. Leaves bend upward, and leaflets will curl inward. Brochures may look thick and leathery.

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CHEMICAL STRESS OR HERBICIDE DRIFT/CONTAMINATION

A less common reason for curling tomato leaves is herbicide drift or contamination of compost by herbicide residue.
Tomato plants are susceptible to hormone-based herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. It’s also important to remember that strong winds can transfer most of these chemicals from nearby farms (Drift).

Tomato plants damaged by herbicide will often have twisted growth. Leaves will roll downward. The stems may turn white and may even split. Damage is often more noticeable in new development. Sometimes the tomato plants can grow out of the damage and produce typically. But if tomato plants are subjected to a high dose of herbicide, they may never recover and should be discarded [2].

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WIND DAMAGE

Tomato plant leaves curl as a self-defense or survival response to extreme weather conditions for preventing further water loss from the plant’s leaves by causing the edges of the tomato leaves to die back, then twist and curl.

If wind damage is the only problem, plant health will generally normalize once weather conditions improve. In such situations, the leaves will generally turn leathery, thicken, and curl inwards. This can be used to differentiate weather-related leaf curl from other conditions [3].

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INSECT DAMAGE

Tomatoes may also show curled leaves from insect damage. Heavy feeding by Aphids may cause the leaves to curl with pale yellow spots as the insects suck plant juices out of the leaves. Aphids are commonly found on the underside of leaves and can be seen with the naked eye. Look out for their tiny bodies and dew droplets that they secrete. 

Broad mites are another group of pests found on the underside of leaves where there is damage. They attack a wide range of plants, including peppers and tomatoes. They prefer tender young leaves and will start feeding on growing tips and flower buds. The new growth will turn brown and curl up. Broad mites also spin webs on the underside of leaves, which is a sign to look out for [4].

TOMATO LEAF CURL VIRUS

Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) and Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) are the two most notorious viruses that affect tomato plants, causing tomato leaf curling. Both spread via human contact, especially if you have been in contact with tobacco, most notably by aphids and whiteflies. Leaf curl because of these viruses is usually accompanied by other identifying symptoms such as yellowing leaves, stunted growth, purple veins on the leaf underside, and internal browning of fruits [5].

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6 Easy ways – How to treat tomato leaf curling?

It doesn’t mean that the entire crop is gone just because your plants have developed leaf curl. There are various ways to treat tomato leaf curl, depending on the cause identified. Some may take quite a bit of time before any noticeable changes, so you need to be patient in that case with your plants.

  • Sufficient Watering and Soil Moisture

It is considered that watering your plants regularly within a set defined schedule is essential. The best time to water tomatoes is during the morning hours, for the plants to have enough moisture to sustain themselves throughout the day.

It is to be ensured that the soil is also well-drained, avoiding mineral leaching that might lead to leaf curling. Plants that had been previously affected by leaf curl because of either drought conditions or undrained soil usually recover within a few days. Also, it is preventable, so the production will not even be affected if the issue is diagnosed and fixed on time.

  • Avoiding Herbicide Drift Damage

Although it’s almost impossible to reverse the damage due to herbicides on tomato leaves, reducing the toxicity is critical in ensuring that the plant recovers.

Avoid spraying any chemicals when the winds are more than five mph. Also, use a hooded sprayer when applying post-emergence herbicides, especially near growing plants. By reducing the concentration of tomatoes, it can reduce the leaf curl herbicide damage. To achieve this, frequent watering must be done and ensuring that the earth is well-drained. With such changes, the tomatoes should hopefully sprout new leaves without the curled effect.

  • Proper Shading of Plants

When caused by extreme weather conditions, the best possible way for this is by placing some protection between the elements and your sensitive plants.

Shading will protect your tomato plants from the scorching heat of midday sun, thus preventing leaf curl because of excessive evaporation. The shading will also protect your plants from strong winds and a dusty environment. With such insulation in place, your plants should recover almost immediately as they will no longer need to deploy the curling defensive mechanism.

  • Extra Nitrogen (Urea) Administration

If your plants have lost much vegetation due to leaf curl, then the best way to encourage recovery is by spurring leaf growth; this can be done with an extra nitrogen supply. After identifying and dealing with the culprit responsible for the leaf curl, a little excess Urea will encourage leaf growth to restore the balance [6].

  • Eradication of Diseased Plant

If any of the above solutions do not solve your leaf curl problems, your plant might be dealing with a viral infection. As with many other tomato diseases, these can be very dangerous, spreading to other areas of your garden and causing chaos. As time passes, the disorders will also kill your plants, making any possible effort to resolve the problem useless.

Once you’ve identified any viral diseases that cause leaf curl, remove the plant from the garden immediately and destroy it – do not compost it.

  • Pruning

Tomatoes are hardy, fast-growing vining plants. During planting, anticipate indeterminate varieties to get very large and need a structure to support their growth. Whether stakes, cages, or trellises, securing your plant to the support structure can prevent or limit wind damage regardless of the method, you use.

Prune excessive suckers and lower leaves to allow more airflow. Also, prune leaves with visible aphid or broad mite infestation as one step in population control [7]. 

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How to prevent tomato leaf curling in the future?

Sometimes it is not possible to save a tomato plant no matter how much we try. Right time to notice that something’s off with your plant is the critical aspect of preventing a loss.

Don’t let the doom and gloom of the herbicide and viral disease cause alarm – your problem is far more likely to be quickly fixable [8].

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Prevention of Tomato Leaf Curling – 5 Things to do

  • Pest Control

Tomatoes are prone to TYLCV and TMV, which are spread through transmitting agents, the pests. Dealing with them either includes introducing a natural predator such as ladybugs and praying mantis or if tomato leaf curl is too widespread, then using insecticides, which unfortunately will also kill helpful insects.

  • Crop Rotation

Crop rotation confirms that bacteria and viruses harmful to your tomatoes don’t survive to the next tomato crop as they’ll be inactive once you plant a non-susceptible crop such as carrots or beans. It stops the cycle, ensuring the safety of future plants from leaf curling.

Planting a different crop variety in your garden each season improves the structure of the soil and ensures nutrient balance as opposed to growing the same crop repeatedly.

  • Proper Handling of Herbicides

It is a must to follow the precautions and restrictions specified on the product label. Any manure and urine from treated forage consuming farm animals will contain enough herbicides to cause injury or leaf curling in plants. Promote herbicide decomposition by either burning herbicide-exposed plant residues or evenly incorporating them in the soil.

If herbicide drift is possible, then the herbicide users should be encouraged to use drift-reducing spray additives.

  • Use Resistant Varieties

The best variety of resistant/tolerant variants includes transgenic tomatoes that have had their genes modified through genetic engineering. Such plants can withstand viruses, and new traits are added during the process, such as increased shelf life and resistance to environmental stresses.

  • Intercropping

Intercropping is not only a great way to make the most out of your garden, but it also helps in combating pests to avoid tomato leaf curling and diseases especially soil-borne microorganisms.

Marigolds are especially suitable for intercropping with tomatoes due to their quality of repelling garden pests. The plant produces alpha-terthienyl, a substance that reduces root-knot nematodes in the soil. Garlic and Onions are natural aphid repellants and will, therefore, keep away this danger known to spread the virus [9].

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Conclusion

Tomatoes are the most popular and significant crop regarding the nutritional value of the human diet. Economically speaking, tomatoes are worth a tremendous amount of money because they give more yield. To get more product, it’s essential to maintain your tomato plant’s proper health and growth.

Suppose the tomato leaf curling is appropriately identified and the solution is administered to the tomato leaf curl at the right time. In that case, tomato leaf curling is not at all a hassle to you and your tomato plant. You might not know the reason for your tomato leaf curling at first, but by giving a little more of your time and consideration, you can treat the leaf curling very well without getting to face its loss eventually.

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