Mkulima today several farmers are moving from tomatoes farming in droves. Both novice and experienced farmers are switching from tomatoes to other vegetables as a result of the long period  it takes to get to market and the high costs of production as a result of the inputs used. Today we cover tomatoes diseases and how to fight bacterial wilt.

About bacterial wilt

Bacterial wilt is a tomato disease that is caused by the pathogen bacterium Ralstonia Solanacearum.

It is very common in moist sandy soils and humid environments. The bacteria reside in the soil and work their way very quickly through the roots and up the stem of the plant.

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Bacterial wilt is often the result of

  • a plant being injured,
  • cut, or
  • weakened by insects or
  • Wear and tear from handling.

How to fight bacterial wilt in tomatoes

When the plant is infected, the bacteria builds up and clogs up the stems of the plant, keeping water and nutrients from being able to reach the leaves, effectively killing the plant.


Bacterial wilt is a disease caused by the pathogen bacterium Ralstonia Solanacearum and is most commonly found in moist and humid sand-heavy soils. Bacterial wilt, unlike fusarium wilt, attacks the plant from the bottom up.

It resides in the soil, and quickly attacks the tomato plant from the roots, working its way up the stem and to the leaves of the plant, causing them to wilt. It is spread by contaminated water, soil, infected plant material, and equipment.


How to fight bacterial wilt. Normally the youngest leaves show signs of infection first and begin to wilt during the hottest part of the day.

Most of the time this often goes unnoticed as the leaves stay green during the infection period.

Eventually, the wilting will become obvious, but once you notice it happening, it is likely that the entire plant has begun to wilt and will soon die.

Bacterial wilt tends to occur when the weather is extremely hot and there is a high level of humidity from recent rainfall, leaving the soil wet. It is also common in areas with a high soil pH.

It can be diagnosed by cutting the stem at the base of the plant and searching for discolored tissue.


Suspend suspect stems in a glass of water to test for bacterial wilt.

Infected stems will ooze a slimy, white substance into the water within minutes of being submerged.

Treatment and control

There are no known effective chemical controls for bacterial wilt.

As the plants die, the bacterial pathogen is released into the soil, so the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of bacterial wilt is to remove diseased plants as soon as you notice wilting.

Do not compost these plants, but discard them immediately and clean and sanitize any tools used in the removal and disposal process.


Since there is no way to cure infected plants, the best way to control bacterial wilt is to practice prevention methods.

Use good cultural controls to keep bacterial wilt out of your garden and off of your tomatoes.

Tips to prevent bacterial wilt include:

  • Rotate your crops regularly
  • Install raised beds
  • Space plants out evenly to improve air circulation
  • Test soil and amend to a pH of 6.2 to 6.5 for tomatoes and most garden vegetables
  • Wash hands and gardening tools after handling infected plants
  • If problems persist with soil-borne disease, try shifting to container gardening using a sterile commercial potting mix.

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