red spider mite on tomatoes

I've been battling red spider mites on my tomato plants for about 15 years. And, so far, it's been: me - zip; red spider mites - 15. I've tried everything: Kelthane, hard water sprays, detergent, malathion, Neems, Sevin, flea & tick spray . . . you name it. Nothing has been successful. Whatever anyone has suggested, I've tried. I live in Oklahoma -- hot, dry summers. So, does anyone have a suggestion? I'll try anything.
Arthur Bay
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Tomatoes are a temperate climate fruit. They stop producing when night temperatures remain above 78 and this is that time. I live in Texas and my tomatoes are still producing, but are covered in spider mites. This is the first year I've had a good harvest of tomatoes. I switched to heirloom varieties which have been proven to produce in this part of Texas and just yesterday I went out, cut all my plants back and will keep them watered till mid July, when I will start to fertilize them again and try to get a second season out of them. Now, tomatoes are definitely winding down in the mid to deep south.
Victoria
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I will share your pain. I have not been able to completely defeat these red mites. The total organic crowd claims seeweed and fish emulsion spray will do the job. I tried it for several weeks with little or no success. I have used kelthane and malathion too the point I was afraid to eat any of the tomatoes. I just have about accepted the fact that I am only going to get a short growing season. I always plant a fall crop and do not usually have a bad mite problem. I live in central Texas.
Good Luck and Have Fun
Jim

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I was about to claim victory. I spotted a tomato patch about 10 doors from my yard that appeared to be mite free. So, I knocked on the door to learn his secret. Nice guy. He uses malathion but in a much stronger dosage than I have used it. Something like 1.5 ounces per gallon. So, I looked on the label and it says I could use up to 3 ounces per gallon -- 6 tablespoons. His secret, he claims, was in using a hose end sprayer -- one of those that you don't have to mix with water. Rather you dial the dosage and the mix is automatic. Anyway, I set mine for 6 tablespoons and sprayed away last Monday. Today, my plants look worse than ever. I should give up -- but I'll try again next year. It's like this every year for me with no end in sight.
Here, in Oklahoma City, unlike central Texas, you can't get a fall crop. And, it must be the red spider capitol of the universe.
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If you used malathion, kelthane, and all the rest you mentioned and you still have problems, you are doing something wrong, culturally. You are either stressing the plants by improper watering, or your fertilization is not accurate, or something. Are these plants in containers or in the ground? By the way, using one of those cheap ten dollar hose end Ortho sprayers is one of the most inaccurate proportioners I ever had in my life. They are really dangerous. Exactly how are you caring for your plants. Maybe we can work backwards and solve this thing without killing everything else, and exposing yourself to these horrible pesticides.
Victoria
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Victoria, I suspect you are on to something. My method is to stick the plants in the ground and water them whenever I think they're too dry. I really don't fertilize them -- except I had a load of fresh dirt spread over my garden, and I had the soil checked and the report was good. I was supposed to spread 3 pounds of nitrogen for 100 sq. ft. once per month.
I suppose that's not right, right? My other vegetables are doing fine -- corn, squash, cucumbers, egg plant, bell peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, asparagus, green beans, cabbage -- all did or doing quite fine.
Arthur Bay
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For some reason, tomatoes have been a great challenge for me in south central Texas. They are so prone to spider mites due to the elevated night temperatures and the lack of adequate rain. Watering with treated water is really so much different than rain water. The main thing I did differently this year was to use 30 gallon tubs and planted directly in 2 parts compost to 1 part potting mix. The other thing I did was to stake them in four places. These are determinate tomatoes, but they still get gangly. I paid attention to moisture daily and kept them evently watered. Only twice did they wilt from heat, and that was during the vast non-transition we went through from spring to summer. I also added minerals to the potting mix: soft rock phosphate, seaweed meal for potassium and it also provides nitrogen. I used heirloom, non-potato leaf varieties and have had success.
So, you may be doing all the right things, but I should add that daily when I water, I spray a hard spray under the foliage to wash off the mites. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :)
Victoria
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Central Texas HAS two short growing season, as opposed to one long season up north. I'm only refering to vegetables.
What I do for my heirloom tomatoes is, about now when the spider mites are starting to show stippling, I harvest what is ripe or near ripe. I prune out all dead, or crossing vines and any yellow or mite damaged foliage. I spray the undersides of the leaves EVERY DAY with a really good hard spray from my hose and I make sure I get every leaf.
I did this last week. When I do this, I also fertilize the plants. I am already seeing new growth on both tomatoes I have planted in tubs of compost. Next week, I will set out new plants, but continue to water and fertilize the ones I have. These will be my greenhouse tomatoes for the winter months.
I hope you got some of the rain we had tonight. It was getting ridiculously dry.
Victoria by the Dell Diamond
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

I have heard that Dusting Sulfur is very good for the spider mite problem. Have you tried that yet ?
Craig
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No, I don't think so. I may have early in my tomato growing career. Anyway, it couldn't hurt, so next year I'll add that to my long list of solutions. I ain't giving up.
Got a pretty good crop this year, but the tomatoes are hanging on dead branches. The season is over for me. I hope the green tomatoes will be able to ripen. In the meantime, I am harvesting quite a few. On a good year, (and I've had a few -- sort of), I'll get a second batch that never quite ripen before the frost but yield a bunch of green tomatoes that my wife uses to make green tomato pie -- and family recipe.
Arthur Bay
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