Imagine this scenario: After you have heavily invested in your tomatoes, cracks appear on your previously perfect fruit just as they are starting to ripen.


cracked Cherokee Purple tomato on the vine

Cracking in Cherokee Purple tomato
Credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS

How frustrating!  Depending on the severity of the cracking the fruit will still ripen and be edible, although blemished. However, if cracking is severe, insect and disease pests may take advantage of the weakened skin and feast on the tomato.

Why does this happen?

When tomato plants have fluctuations in the amount of available water in the soil, the skin becomes susceptible to cracking. This occurs when tomatoes are allowed to dry out, then heavily watered. The excess in available moisture causes the inside of the fruit to grow more rapidly than the skin, thus cracking appears. As tomatoes grow toward maturity, they become more prone to cracking. Wide fluctuations in air temperature can also contribute to cracking.

Avoid cracking in your fruit by following these simple suggestions:

• Keep your plants evenly moist through regular irrigation and mulching

• Shade fruit with ample foliage cover

• Select varieties or hybrids that are known to resist cracking

• Harvest susceptible tomatoes at an earlier stage of development and ripen indoors.



Happy Gardening!

For additional information follow these links:

Tomatoes in the Florida Garden

Physiological, Nutritional, and Other Disorders of Tomato Fruit


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