What causes a tomato to crack, and can I do anything to prevent it?

Gardens & Landscapes May 01, 2011|Print
Cracking is a physiological disorder caused by soil moisture fluctuations. When the tomato reaches the mature green stage and the water supply to the plant is reduced or cut off, the tomato will begin to ripen. At this time, a cellophane-like "wrapper" around the outer surface of the tomato becomes thicker and more rigid to protect the tomato during and after harvest. If the water supply is restored after ripening begins, the plant will resume translocation of nutrients and moisture into the fruit. This will cause the fruit to enlarge, which in turn splits the wrapper around the fruit and results in cracking. The single best control for cracking is a constant and regular water supply. Apply a layer of organic mulch to the base of the plant to serve as a buffer and to prevent soil moisture fluctuation. Water plants thoroughly every week — this is especially important when the fruits are maturing. Some varieties are resistant to cracking, but their skin is tougher.

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