What is wrong with my tomato?
Tomato problems are temporary
The 5 worst tomato problems
Ugly, deformed or diseased tomatoes are usually a temporary problem. Most problems will solve themselves. So, the answer to most of your problems is: relax.
- Cat-facing: ugly or misshapen
- Sun-scald: blistering or bog white spot
- Tomatoes not turning red: normal in record high temperatures
- Splitting or cracking: Out growing it's skin
- Too many tomatoes: Plan for next year
Bonus tip - saves time, money and regret.
Catfacing Means Ugly Tomatoes
If you have seen a tomato with catfacing, you understand the name. Catfacing happens early in the season when temperatures are low. ( 50 degrees F ) Fewer pollinators and low pollination create fewer blooms.
Poor pollination and lower temperatures cause the blooms to stick to certain developing parts of the fruit. When this causes fruit indentations and scaring while the unafected parts of the tomato continue to grow and expand.
The pesticide 2,4-D will cause catfacing. Drift can travel from a mile away. If you are spraying your tomatoes, do not use a container that has ever been used with 2,4-D.
Catfaced tomatoes may not be saleable, but it does not affect the taste and can be eaten.
Some catfacing can also be caused by thrips, tiny slender insects with wings. This variety catfacing is a problem affecting fruits.
2. Sun scald
Tomatoes, especially green ones, get sun scald from direct exposure to sun. It's like sunburn for plants. Tomatoes will be covered with enough foliage to be protected from this problem.
Too much sun. This may be caused by too much pruning. Although tomatoes are sun loving plants, fruit is usually afforded some protection by the leaves and vines.
Why is this happening?
- You might have broken a branch exposing a fruit.
- Tying up or staking plants might expose some fruit to direct sunshine.
- Peppers will have the same problem if the fruit is in direct line with sun.
Any green tomatoes that have begun to turn color, can be picked and brought inside to slowly ripen.
3. Tomatoes don't turn red
You have big orange tomatoes. They seem ready to harvest, but just won't turn that beautiful red color as usual. They feel ripe, but they aren't red.
When temperatures reach 86 degrees or hotter for several days, carotene and lycopene, shut down production. In a heat wave, tomato plants will not set fruit and fruit will not turn red.
If tomatoes have started to ripen, you can pick them and let them finish ripening in the kitchen.
Tomatoes cracking up
4. Splitting or cracking
There are two kinds of cracking: radial and concentric. Radial cracks rediate out from the stem end like the spokes of a wheel. These cracks can be the most harmful, allowing insects or disease in the tomato.
Concentric cracks are those that circle the tomato. These cracks develop scar tissue and seal out damaging diseases or molds. Although the cracks are unattractive, they will not affect the taste.
Cracks are caused by rapidly changing water levels such as days of drought followed by heavy rains. The tomato fruit will grow faster than the epidermis cells can expand. When ripe tomatoes are left on the vine to long, concentric cracks can occur.
Way too many tomatoes
5. Too Many Tomatoes
At the peek of tomato season, your gardening success may be a temporary problem. What to do with a kitchen table full of ripe tomatoes. If you do not have time to preserve the harvest try this temporary solution.
Wash all tomatoes and place on a cookie sheet. Do not let tomatoes touch. Place in freezer. The goal is to freeze tomatoes separately. When tomatoes are frozen, store individual tomatoes in a freezer bag.
This temporary storage method will give you time to process the tomatoes after the heat of summer.
6. Do not over feed tomatoes
Bonus tomato tip
If you add too much fertilizer, you may get fewer tomatoes. Some gardeners may think if a little is good, a lot of fertilizer is better. No So.
Plants require six basic nutrients. The first three are carbon, hydrogen and oxygen which plants get from air and water. The other three are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Fertilizer is labeled NPK.
- N - Nitrogen creates lush foliage.
- P- Phosphorus makes roots and flowers grow.
- K- Potassium (Potash) is important to overall plant health.
Adding too much nitrogen (N) will create a big, beautiful, lush tomato plant with very little fruit. Avoid the common mistake of overfeeding your tomatoes.
3 Great Tomato Recipes
Bacon and tomato quiche
Fried Green Tomatoes After First Frost
- Cat-facing: summer temperatures will increase pollinators and improve pollination.
- Sun-scald: do not over prune plant.
- Tomatoes do not turn red: pray for a break in the heat wave.
- Splitting or cracking: mulch and keep rain/water levels consistent .
- Too many tomatoes: Plant fewer plants or have a canning party for next year.