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severe tomato leaf curling - need advice

I've been growing tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets for a few years on my back porch. Never had many problem. This is a new one. The new leaves on almost all my tomato plants are curling so hard they're basically little balls. I've seen leave curl, but never like this. They look fine for a while, then suddenly very deformed. I'm at a total loss here. The soil is a mix of potting soil and compost, some vermiculite. This is my first post so hopefully the pics work. I'm wondering if I need to just start over. Even then I won't know what to change. Thanks.

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Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:23 am
Location: Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada. Zone 5a

Re: severe tomato leaf curling - need advice

I'm no expert but they look pretty bad. I would get some transplants and start from those. Never grown in 5 gallon pails personally but from what i've seen it can be done. over fertilization would be my guess. ie burning the leaves. I'm probably wrong. I always grow directly in the ground and usually have great results. If you don't have that option then I guess you'll have to figure it out. more growing space the better when it comes to tomatoes. best of luck to u

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: severe tomato leaf curling - need advice

Where are you located? Are you somewhere in the south?

I have heard that in southern states, TYLCV (Tomato Yellow Leaf Curf Virus) which is spread by whiteflies is often diagnosed. If you have had a whitefly infestation, this might be it.

This similar kind of curling in the new growth is also evident due to herbicide damage.
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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: severe tomato leaf curling - need advice

I have seen tomato yellow leaf curl and it usually does not look like that. The leaves turn yellow and curl up but that is downright curled inward into a tight ball. The lower leaves of the plant look like they were not affected. TYLCV would show up on most of the leaves.

Most non-parasitic curling inward is most commonly an issue of uneven watering. Did the pot dry out and then watered again?

Five gallon pot is not much volume of soil for an indeterminate tomato. It would be too small in the long run. 18 gallon or 20 inch pots are the minimum I use. You have the buckets on a concrete pad. How hot does it get?

Where I am I cannot keep pots on concrete in summer unless they are insulated. The pots get too hot and cook the roots and usually end up with the plants wilting in the middle of the day and then perking up again once the sun goes down. If I have pots out in the sun they are packed together so they insulate each other or I double pot to insulate the inner pot.
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