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Extension > Garden > Commercial fruit and vegetable production > Plant diseases > Bacterial canker of tomato

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Heinz USA,

Fruit infection of bacterial canker

Bacterial canker of tomato

Michelle Grabowski and Angela Orshinsky

Pathogen: The bacteria Clavibacter michiganensis subspecies michiganensis.

Host range: Primarily important on tomato, although it can also infect pepper. The pathogen may survive on weeds that are closely related to tomato.


Heinz USA,

Stem canker from bacterial canker of tomato

M.A. Hansen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,

Leaf infection of bacterial canker

P. Bachi, UKY,

Internal discoloration of stem from bacterial canker

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms vary with age of plant, type of infection, environment and other factors. This disease can be difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone. Confirm diagnosis by sending a plant sample to the UMN Plant Disease Clinic.






Biology and disease cycle

Heinz USA,

Wilt caused by bacterial canker

The bacterial canker pathogen is spread long distances and introduced to new areas through infected seed or transplants. The disease easily spreads between seedlings in a transplant production greenhouse through workers' hands, equipment, and pruning and clipping of transplants, so one infected seed can potentially result in many infected transplants, through which the disease can become established in high tunnels or fields. Transplants may be infected yet not initially show symptoms. In the field, infected transplants often die and secondary spread is limited or of little economic impact. However, in tunnels or greenhouses, the disease easily spreads between transplants and between older plants through practices like pruning and staking and can result in severe symptoms and yield loss. The pathogen survives up to three years on non-decomposed tomato plant debris and can survive for several months on stakes and equipment, thereby readily infecting tomatoes planted in the same tunnel the following season.


Resistant varieties

There are currently no tomato varieties with resistance to bacterial canker.

Cultural control

Chemical control

There are very few chemical options for managing bacterial canker. Visit the Midwestern Vegetable Production Guide for a current list of treatment options.


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