Agriculture: Tomato Pest Management Guidelines

Powdery Mildew on Field-Grown Tomatoes

  • Leveillula taurica (Oidiopsis taurica)
  • Symptoms and Signs

    Leaves on infected tomato plants develop irregular, bright yellow blotches; severely affected leaves die but seldom drop. Spots of dead tissue, sometimes surrounded by a yellow halo, eventually appear in the blotches. Abundant white sporulation may be observed on upper or lower leaf surfaces. There are no lesions on stems or fruit. As the disease progresses leaves die, resulting in sunburn damage on fruit, reduced soluble solids, and weakened plants.

    Comments on the Disease

    Powdery mildew occurs in most tomato-growing areas of California. The fungus infects weeds and crops in the solanaceous family; spores are carried by wind to tomato plants. The disease usually is most severe late in the season. High relative humidity favors disease development. Mild temperatures favor infection while higher temperatures hasten the death of infected leaves. Plants stressed by other problems appear to be more susceptible to powdery mildew.


    When conditions are conducive to disease development and sporulation is abundant, fungicide applications may be necessary to control powdery mildew.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Bacillus pumilus and some sulfur sprays may be acceptable for use on organically certified produce. Check with your certifier before use.

    Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

    A weather-based, forecasting model is available online. The model attempts to predict the occurrence of powdery mildew based on temperature, relative humidity, and leaf wetness. However, since 2007 the disease has been more severe and faster developing such that disease severity and fungicide timings have not been well predicted by the model in recent years.

    Fungicides may not be needed on early-season crops harvested in July or August. In the Central Valley, disease outbreaks generally start in July or August and mainly affect plants that are at full-bloom or a later stage. Multiple, early applications of sulfur dust are the most effective option; once the disease becomes severe, control is difficult. Apply fungicides if needed preventatively or during the early infection period. When disease pressure is high, repeat fungicide applications at 7-day intervals to control the disease. Stop treatments within two weeks of harvest.

    There are no immune tomato varieties in California, though varieties vary in susceptibility.

    Common name Amount per acre** REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least likely to cause resistance are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to the pesticide's properties and application timing, honey bees, and environmental impact. Always read the label of the product being used.
    A. SULFUR#
      (various products) Label rates 24 0
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Multi-site contact (M2)
      COMMENTS: Do not use if an oil was applied recently or will be in the near future.
      (Quintec) 4–6 fl oz 12 3
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Azanaphthalene (13)
      (Quadris Top) 8 fl oz 12 0
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Quinone outside inhibitor (11) and Demethylation inhibitor (3)
      (Priaxor Xemium) 6–8 fl oz 12 0
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (7) and Quinone outside inhibitor (11)
      (Quadris F) 5–6 fl oz 4 0
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Quinone outside inhibitor (11)
      COMMENTS: Apply on a 7- to 14-day interval; make no more than three sequential applications before alternating with a fungicide that has a different mode of action. Do not alternate or tank mix with fungicides to which resistance has developed in the pathogen population.
      (Cabrio EG) 8–16 oz 12 0
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Quinone outside inhibitor (11)
      (various products) Label rates 24 0
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Multi-site contact (M2)
      COMMENTS: Do not use if oil was applied recently or will be in the near future.
      (Fontelis) See label 12 0
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (7)
      (Rally 40WSP) 2.5–4 oz 24 0
      MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Demethylation inhibitor (3)
    ** See label for dilution rate.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment until harvest can take place. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of these two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest may take place.
    # Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
    1 Group numbers are assigned by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) according to different modes of actions. Fungicides with a different group number are suitable to alternate in a resistance management program. In California, make no more than one application of fungicides with mode-of-action group numbers 1, 4, 9, 11, or 17 before rotating to a fungicide with a different mode-of-action group number; for fungicides with other group numbers, make no more than two consecutive applications before rotating to fungicide with a different mode-of-action group number.
    Text Updated: 12/13
    Treatment Table Updated: 09/16