A suspected case of ethylene damage was observed in greenhouse tomatoes this past week. Symptoms include severe epinasty (downward curling and malformation of leaves), and flower abortion. Tomatoes are especially sensitive to ethylene, and in mixed culture they may be the first plants to exhibit symptoms. Similar symptoms may be caused by compost that is contaminated with herbicide.
Elevated levels of ethylene in the greenhouse are most often caused by malfunctioning or poorly ventilated heaters. Checking and monitoring of heating systems to ensure that they are functioning properly are important during cold periods such as we are experiencing this week, especially at this time of the season when many greenhouses are filled with young and potentially sensitive crops.
- Angela Madeiras, Extension Educator and Diagnostician, UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab with James Mussoni, Private IPM Scout.