Oh my! What happened here??
Elke Baxter, Master Gardener in Philip, sent these photos of her damaged plants (tomato and potato plants) with the simple question: What happened here?
Several of us feel this is the result of herbicide drift which can happen when spraying with a volatile herbicide is done and the temperature, humidity and breeze conspire to carry the miniscule drops of herbicide far from their intended target. If the herbicide adheres to tender green growth, bizarre curling and gross malformation of leaves and stems can occur.
Almost always the plant(s) will come out of the experience. Some persons feel that additional fertilizer is a help for the plants. Others feel that increasing the water is best.
It would seem that there are two lessons to be taken from this experience: 1.Be very careful with herbicide spray - it can be carried far from the target site. 2. There is an advantage to giving an affected plant a day or two before applying Draconian measures - heavy fertilizer or water, cutting back, etc. Wait and see if the plant can respond on its own.
Having queried gardening friends, Elke offered this summary of answers:
"...1. Herbicide damage, the curled leaves and stunted growth are typical of herbicide damage. We didn't spray but drift can carry things up to a mile.
2. Another gal I talked to says she also had the same type of problem and had her plants tested and there was no herbicide or virus damage at all. She says a number of folks have reported the same problem and she feels it's 'just the year'.
I didn't pull the plants to find out for sure, but according to the second gal's info her plants eventually came out of their funk with generous application of fish emulsion (natural fertilizer). Mine are beginning to look a bit better and are trying to bloom. We'll see how it goes."