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Bacterial Canker

Bacterial Canker on a tomato leaf - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Bacterial Canker
a.k.a. Bacterial Blast or Bacterial Gummosis

Bacterial Canker on a tomato leaf
Bacterial Canker on a tomato leaf.

Bacterial Canker is, as stated in the title, a bacterial disease. The heirloom garden plant mainly affected by Bacterial Canker is the Tomato. It is widespread throughout the U.S.A. especially when the weather is cool, moist and windy. It is spread to heirloom garden plants by the wind, rain, infected seeds, and debris. It enters the garden plant through wounds in its skin.

Symptoms of Bacterial Canker in Heirloom Tomatoes often affect the entire plant. The plants are susceptible at any stage of growth. The younger the plants are infected, the less likely they are to yield a crop. Oldest Tomato leaves are affected first by Bacterial Canker and they will turn downward, the small leaflets curl and shrivel. Only one side of the Tomato leaf may be affected. If you cut a stem lengthwise it may reveal a creamy white to reddish brown discoloration. Young Heirloom Tomato fruits infected by Bacterial Canker are stunted and distorted and may develop small, white round spots.

Organic remedies for Heirloom Tomatoes include a hot water seed treatment. When done correctly, heat treatment can be very effective at eliminating bacteria associated with the surface of the seed as well as under the seed coat where bleach and other surface disinfecting treatments cannot reach. Place the seeds in 122°F water for 25 minutes to kill the bacteria. Remember to rotate all your garden crops. To be absolutely certain that the bacterium has been eliminated from the field, rotate out of tomatoes for at least one year. At the season’s end, incorporate all plant tissue into the soil. Plant residue that remains on the surface and doesn’t decompose is a real risk to subsequent tomato crops. Once the tomato residue decomposes, however, Bacterial Canker is no longer a threat. The best long term answer to solving the challenge of Bacterial Canker is to plant heirloom varieties that are resistant or by certified disease free seed.