Agriculture: Tomato Pest Management Guidelines

Powdery Mildew on Greenhouse and Coastal Tomatoes

  • Oidium neolycopersici
  • Symptoms and Signs

    Symptoms of powdery mildew are limited to leaves. Symptoms initially appear as light green to yellow blotches or spots that range from 0.125 to 0.5 inch (3–12 mm) in diameter on the upper surface of the leaf. A white, powdery growth of the fungal mycelia and spores is obvious on the top of leaves. As spots coalesce, the leaf tissue dies. The entire leaf eventually turns brown and shrivels but remains attached to the stem.

    Comments on the Disease

    In California, powdery mildew caused by O. neolycopersici is limited to greenhouses and fields close to the coast. Conidia are easily windborne and are carried long distances. The conidia land on leaves where they germinate and enter the leaf stomata. The fungus grows at moderate to cool temperatures. Little moisture is required for the fungus to establish itself on a plant. There is experimental evidence that the pathogen has a wide host range and probably survives on other hosts or volunteer tomato plants from season to season.


    This powdery mildew is generally not severe in coastal fields and control measures are usually not warranted. Greenhouse-grown tomatoes, however, can suffer to the point of severe economical damage. Registered fungicides, such as sulfur, may be required to control the disease in the greenhouse. Begin applications when the disease first appears.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Sulfur sprays are acceptable for use on organically certified produce.

    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.
    ** 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 action. 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: 12/13