Buckeye Rot of Tomato Plant : Prevention & Management

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Quick Answer: Buckeye Rot of Tomato Plant

Buckeye rot is characterized by concentric brown rings on roots/ stem or fruits of your tomato plant. The first signs of buckeye rot are firm bruises found on bottom of Tomato skin.    It is a seed borne fungi and spreads through contact of Tomato plant with soil. The spraying of protective fungicides consistently throughout the year and staking mulch plants to reduce contact with soil is proven effective with disease management.

This is the ultimate guide to Buckeye Rot disease of the Tomato plant – how it spreads, identification, prevention, and management method.

Let us get started! 

What is Tomato Buckeye Rot Disease?

Tomato buckeye disease is mainly a fungi disease caused by Phytophthora genera where the predominant species responsible for the disease are P. capsici, P. drechsleri, and P. nicotiana var. parasitica.

It occurs mainly on the root system, stem base, and fruits in contact with the ground.

The fruit located high up on plants can sometimes be affected due to heavy rain splashing.  

Fungal spores growth is favored when the soil is wet and warm. The temperature requirement is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Confirm that Buckeye Rot is Troubling your Tomato Plants?

The initial predominant sign is ‘dark brown circular bruising around the tomatoes.’

Brown spots occur on fruits in contact with the ground.

These gradually spread in diffuse and concentric brown bands, progressively invading the fruit and may produce a white, cottony fungal growth.

Inspect your tomatoes based on the following symptoms- 

  1. Small brownish water-soaked spot
  2. Alternate rings of light and brown bands
  3. Firm and smooth lesions during the initial fungus growth
  4. Rough and sunken lesions at the margin
  5. Buckeye rot lesions of tomato may cover a small part or more of the fruit.
  6. Early signs of wilting, water soaking, and necrotic stem.
  7. The edges of the fruit are often sunken.

Put tomatoes with symptoms but no spores overnight in a humid climate, such as keep it on a paper towel [wet] in a closed plastic bag, and if the spores are induced, it confirms that buckeye rot has infected your tomatoes.

 The white cottony growth is the warning sign for Tomato Buckeye Rot. 

Buckeye Rot is recognized by the brown concentric circles

Ways to Control Buckeye Rot on Tomato Plant

Even though the spreading of Buckeye Rot takes place rapidly, however, there many easy quick-fix that can be done to halt the further damage.

1. Maintain Distance Between Tomato Fruit and Soil

Separating fruits from the soil is the first thing to do during a tomato buckeye rot outbreak.

The spreading of buckeye rot is a consequence of soil spattering, so the goal is to reduce the splashing of water. 

  • Add a thick layer of mulch [black plastic, straw, hay, ground corn cobs, etc.] around the base of their tomato plants. It reduces the chances of the disease getting into the fruit.
  • Stake each plant to keep fruit off the soil surface.
  • Cage up your tomato plant by the string.
  • Put the pine straws around the base of the plant. Go 2 to 3 inches deep in the soil. It keeps the soil moist.

2. Maintaining Proper Conditions

Setting up your plant beds in proper conditions is a must in terms of prevention and management.

Buckeye Rot is most affected by ‘How soil and water are utilized?’ 

Always Use Suitable Soil

The soil suitable for the cultivation of tomato plants should be heavy and non-porous. It should not be compacted in nature. The type of soil recommended for good yield is Clayey soil.

Proper Drainage 

Encourage better drainage in your soil by amending it with lots of organic material.

The use of narrow trenches alongside your tomato plants can help with getting proper drainage.

Sufficient Amount of Water

Water your plants less often, but deeply with lots of water, rather than more often with less water.

Check out the link on maintaining proper conditions for your tomato plant –

How to Prevent Buckeye Rot on Tomato Plant

Take care of your diseased tomatoes by inculcating some chemical and non-chemical managing tips. These are some of the effective methods to manage –

1. Spraying Fungicides

Tomato buckeye rot is a fungal disease, and its prevalence can result in the death of your tomatoes.

Spraying and not dipping or soaking fungicides is advised whenever the symptoms of the disease are spotted. When using a fungicide, always wear protective clothing and follow the instructions on the product label, such as dosage, the timing of application, and pre-harvest interval.

Precautions need to be followed while spraying of fungicide

  • When the foliage is wet with fog, dew, or rain, do not cultivate or work with the plants because this spreads fungal spores from plant to plant.
  • Use fungicidal sprays regularly, treating soil before infections occur.
  •  Five spray applications are usually sufficient in a dry season, while 6 to 8 sprays are required in a wet season.
  • Take extra care to see that the center of each plant and the undersides of the leaves are protected.
  • Make sure that you shake well the bottle of fungicide before applying.
  • Spray fungicide in the evening time otherwise, the leaf will get burnt if applied under the sun

Check out the video to know the proper guide for spraying fungicide –

Instructions for the type of fungicide used

  • You can use three-in-one fungicides for controlling the disease. It is an organic fungicide, miticide and an insecticide.  
  • Appropriate fungicides should include one of the following: chlorothalonil, mancozeb, metalaxyl, or maneb.
  • Follow the directions on the bottle of fungicide. 

2. Soil Fumigation 

Disinfecting the heavily infested tomato plant beds through soil fumigants becomes extremely important when the soil will be reused for the next growing season.

Fumigation of soil requires a thorough understanding of the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Soil fumigants are chemicals that are applied to the soil in either a liquid or granular form.

Directions for using Soil Fumigants

  • Work the fumigant into the soil [Always use the directions provided by the manufacturer when attempting soil fumigation]. 
  • Water the soil.
  • Cover it with a layer of plastic sheeting.
  • Steaming can also be done in place of soil fumigant for disinfecting the soil.

Preventive Measures of Buckeye Rot of Tomato Plant

Prevention is always better than cure. 

Some steps can be followed before planting tomato seeds and some precautionary actions should be taken after harvesting tomatoes to ensure good quality plants in the next growing season.

1. Pre Harvesting Preventive Measures

Buckeye rot of tomato can be managed by planting resistant cultivars. Using good quality seeds can further reduce the risk of Buckeye rot. 

It is advised to check for all tomatoes once you see bruising because the fungus spreading is a fast process, and by the time you understand the cause most of your tomatoes would have died of the buckeye rot disease. 

Do not let your infected tomatoes fall on the ground since there are chances that new growing tomatoes will become infected because of contaminated soil. Remove the discarded tomatoes from the plant but also the soil.

2. Post-Harvesting Preventive Measures

It is always clever to harvest ripe tomato fruit as soon as possible.

The harvested tomatoes should be kept dry and cool to reduce further harm.

After harvest is completed, spade or plow under, compost, or burn all tomato vines.


How to check if the tomato plant is infected with Buckeye rot and not late blight?

The small brownish and water-soaked spot that appears near the bottom of the tomato is smooth and firm initially and later develops the characteristic alternating rings of light and brown bands.

It looks like a marking of a bull’s eye with dark and brown rings that are smooth and shiny.

Can Epsom salt treat my tomatoes from buckeye rot?

No, Epsom salt promotes the growth of the tomato plant and can harm any good. According to some studies, it can contaminate groundwater and can promote the prevalence of buckeye rot. 

Where do the first signs of buckeye rot disease appear?

They appear on the near end of the tomato skin where the fruit touches the soil [ ground]. It looks like a bruise underneath the skin.


Tomato plants are very delicate, and I hope this post provides you with some tips and tricks on how to prevent and manage Buckeye rot disease in tomato plants. 

Try these very easy measures and have healthy and happy tomato plants.  

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