Extension notes is written by K-State Extension of Harvey County extension agents Scott Eckert, Susan Jackson and Ryan Flaming. They focus on horticulture and agriculture.
Well for the most part the weather has been great! Everyone has planted the garden and even included a tomato or two. With tomatoes come the potential for the many maladies that tomatoes challenge us with each year. Every year we receive calls from gardeners about tomato plants with curling leaves. When tomato plants grow vigorously in mild, spring weather the top growth often exceeds the root development. When the first few days of warm, dry summer weather hit, the plant detects it has a problem and needs to increase root development. The plant tries to reduce its leaf area by rolling leaves. The leaves curl along the length of the leaf (leaflet) in an upward fashion. It is often accompanied by a thickening of the leaf giving it a leathery texture. Interestingly, leaf roll is worse on some varieties than others. Though rolling usually occurs during the spring to summer shift period, it may also occur after a heavy cultivating or hoeing, a hard rain, or any sudden change in weather. Too much rain can saturate the soil and suffocate the roots. The damaged root system is less able to transport water, especially when warm temperatures and winds increase water use. Leaf oll is a temporary condition that goes away after a week or so when the plant acclimates, recovers from injury, or soil dries out.