What Causes Tomatoes to Crack? | North Carolina Cooperative Extension

growing tomatoes on the south coast is always a gamble. throughout the summer you play against insects, diseases, heat or drought that ruin your harvest. Until a few weeks ago, this season’s growing conditions had been near ideal, resulting in some of the healthiest tomato plants I’ve seen in years. Recent heavy rains are likely to reverse this trend, raising the stakes for a bumper crop this season.

split and crack

Reading: What causes a tomato to split

swinging and guffawing are terms you’ll want to hear in reference to a joke you just made, not about your tomatoes. Heavy rains, especially when preceded by dry weather, are the main cause of fruit cracking and splitting in tomatoes. this type of damage is most likely to occur when tomatoes begin to ripen and you eagerly anticipate harvest, although unripe fruit can also be affected.

Cracking and splitting occurs when rapid changes in soil moisture levels cause the fruits to expand faster than the tomato skin can grow. there are two different patterns this damage can take. vertical cracks along the sides of the fruit are known as radial cracking and are the most serious. this splitting pattern commonly occurs during hot, humid weather. Cracking that occurs in a circular pattern on the top of tomato fruit, surrounding the stem end, is known as concentric cracking. When cracking of any kind occurs in green tomatoes, the fruits are likely to rot before they fully ripen if left on the vine.

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With both radial and concentric cracking, your best bet is to harvest the fruits immediately, before they start to rot. these fruits are edible and can be allowed to finish ripening indoors, although any fruit that develops a sour odor or begins to ooze should go directly to the compost pile. fruits that ripen off the vine, as well as those that ripen on the vine during cloudy, rainy weather, will be less flavorful than those that fully ripen on the plant during sunny weather.

apical rot

Besides cracking and splitting, fluctuations in soil moisture level are the most common cause of blossom end rot. This disorder occurs when not enough calcium is available within the developing fruit, causing the lower end of the fruit to turn brown or black. Other factors that can cause blossom end rot include extreme heat or cold, over-fertilization, and low soil pH (acidic soil). they will not develop or mature normally. learn more about blossom end rot: //pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2013/05/why-are-my-squash-rotting/

leaf rolling

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There are several problems that can cause tomato leaves to curl, including wet weather. Leaf curl as a result of wet conditions is not a serious concern and will not harm plants or reduce yields. some varieties are more prone to leaf curl than others. when excessive moisture is the cause of leaf curl, the leaves curl upward starting from the bottom of the plant first. Leaves that curl as a result of moist soil conditions may take on a leathery appearance, but otherwise remain green and healthy.

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minimize problems

The most important thing you can do to minimize fruit cracking, blossom tip rot, and leaf curl in tomatoes is to maintain uniform soil moisture levels by irrigating during drought. most vegetables require about an inch of water per week to remain productive. Drip and soaker hose irrigation systems are the best way to provide this water to vegetables and ornamentals because these systems apply water directly to the soil. this reduces water loss through evaporation and keeps plant leaves dry, helping to limit the spread of leaf diseases. Covering your garden will also help keep the soil evenly moist and minimize moisture-related problems.

more information

Other tomato problems associated with rainy weather and wet soils include wilt diseases and leaf diseases such as early blight. If you suspect your tomatoes have a disease or insect problem, have the cause properly diagnosed before taking any action. visit the texas cooperative extension tomato problem solver website, http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/vegetable/tomato-problem-solver/, to diagnose your tomato problems tomatoes or contact your local extension office for help.

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