Curly Top Virus -tomato problem right now

I’ve noticed a few of my tomato plants have got curled leaves, lost their bright green color and their veins turn purple and I’ve got several friends with the same problem who have contacted me about what this might be. I’m pretty sure its Curly Top Virus transmitted from the beet leafhopper which has been really prevalent this season. This is not to be confused with leaf roll where the tomato leaves roll. I think the combo of leaf roll and purple veins is the key. Read on.

Here is some info on Recognizing Tomato Problems from Colorado State University website.

‘Curly top virus is transmitted by the beet leafhopper. This problem is common in western Colorado but seldom found in eastern Colorado. Infected plants turn yellow and stop growing. Upper leaflets roll and develop a purplish color, especially along the veins. Leaves and stems become stiff; fruit ripens prematurely. It is difficult to control because leafhoppers migrate from southern areas. Hot, dry springs with predominantly southwest winds usually indicate increased problems with this disease. No chemical controls are effective. Use row covers to protect tomato plants from the leafhopper.’ Of course this is for Colorado but applies here as well.

Unfortunately after tomatoes get the virus, you should pull the plants. I’m concerned that a leafhopper might bite an infected plant and then bite a healthy plant and infecting it.  So far 4-5 of my plants have this. I’m pulling them tomorrow..

5 comments on “Curly Top Virus -tomato problem right now

  1. Sharon Thompson says:

    I am in North Central Texas and had been thinking for months my Tomatoes have the ‘Curly Top Virus’. Just ran across your blog and now see there is also something called ‘Leaf Roll’. I have never heard of that and after investigating I am thinking it is caused by the Cucumber Mosaic Viris?? Is that correct, or is ‘Leaf Roll’ caused by something else.


    • Leaf Roll is due to stress to the plant and is not a disease. It could be caused by trimming, not enough water, too much water, too cold, too hot, etc. Anything that could stress the plant. It can still produce just fine. On the other hand if the plant looks stress, wilted like it needs water even though it’s getting water, curled leaves AND purple veins underneath the leaves-it could be curly top virus. If your plants still look healthy with the exception of the curled leaves, I would leave it and try to figure out what’s stressing it. If it worsens like the above, pull it.


      • Sharon Thompson says:

        Thanks for getting back with me…sounds like it is definitely not curly top. As for stress, as mentioned above I am in Texas and it could be any one of the stressers you mentioned all within any given week. We have such extremes. Thanks again for all your information. Much appreciated.


  2. Sharon Thompson says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that my leaves do not have purple veins, so that is what now makes me think I do not have ‘Curly Top’


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