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Problem & Solution
November/December 2016

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Sick Tomato Plants
Problem: I started my tomatoes in the middle of July from seed left over from spring. I started ‘4th of July’ and ‘Early Girl.’ I set them out the second of Sept. Then last week or so I noticed some plants were showing signs of stunting. So I went online and discovered they appear to have been infected with a virus called bunchy top.

I don’t know how they became infected. I had never heard of this disease. Out of 34 I planted, I have pulled up about 20 infected plants. So I went to the store and replaced them with new tomatoes. Do you think my replacement tomatoes will become infected? What can I do to prevent the disease from here on out?

Harvey Besetzny

Solution: Here is what Dr. Kevin Ong, plant pathologist, Texas Agri­Life, has to say: “It is hard to make a positive assessment without photos, but I think it is more likely that this may be an issue with herbicide carryover — was mulch or top dress with compost (what is compost source?) used that may have been contaminated with herbicide? We get issues with 2,4D contamination that can result in bunchy-top symptoms. Also, when glyphosate is misused, you can also get similar symptoms but with the base of leaves showing clearing/chlorosis.”

Going forward, avoid using mulch or compost from unknown sources.

Soybean Cover Crop?
Problem: Do you think that it would be possible to plant soybeans as a cover crop right now (late September) in East Texas, or do you think that the frost would kill them?

Mike Handcock

Solution: Soybeans are similar to regular green beans in their cultural requirements. For a fall crop, you would need to plant them in August for them to mature before the first freeze occurs. They are very sensitive to freezing weather. Either elbon rye or hairy vetch would make an excellent cover crop for planting this fall.


More on Soybeans
Problem: Soybean culture for homegrown edamame seems to be rather rare in Texas, and expert advice even more so. Any tips on which varieties in our various zones make the best edamame? I’m also wondering when to plant for each zone, how thick to plant, and where to get the recommended seed.

The photo included is of the ‘Black Jet’ variety that I planted in Southeast Texas about June 1 of this year. The plants stayed small and spindly.

Jean Rudd

Solution: We are glad to have some interest in growing soybeans because Patty Leander has been growing and researching them for us for the past few years. Look for her article on soybeans upcoming in our upcoming March/April 2017 issue.

Looking for Star Fig
Problem: I read the online article “Figs: A Texas Heritage” by Richard Ashton. He mentions his great aunt’s fig tree in Star, Texas. I plan to plant a fig tree in my yard in San Antonio to make preserves. My family also was from Star, and the best fig preserves came from that tree. I would like to ask Mr. Ashton what variety of fig tree was the one he references in Star.

Joe Capps
San Antonio

Solution: We were unable to contact Mr. Ashton at either his phone number or email address and his website was inactive. Perhaps he has moved and if he sees this message will let us know the name of the fig. He was in his 70s the last time we spoke to him.