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Tomato Cracking

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Date: August 6, 2020
Agent: Donna Teasley

Hello, this is Donna Teasley horticulture agent with the North Carolina Cooperative
Extension, Burke Center.

What a summer we’ve had! The weather has gone from one extreme to the other and it has played havoc with our gardens. Tomatoes have plenty of problems in a normal year but this growing season has certainly tested the gardener’s talent for growing tomatoes. The biggest question has been about blossom end rot, but not far beyond have been the inquiries about cracking of tomatoes. Some years we don’t see any problems with this particular issue but it has been bad this year.

There are two types of cracking. Radial cracking is when the skin splits starting where the stem is attached. There is also concentric cracking where the skin
splits in a circular pattern around the fruit. These are not caused by either insects or diseases but by weather conditions. Periods of slow growth followed by fast growth due to wide differences in day and nighttime temperatures, or a dry period followed by a wet period can both enhance the cracking problem. The skin of the tomato loses its ability to stretch as the tomato grows, causing cracks to appear in the skin. Keeping plants uniformly moist and the use of crack resistant varieties will help control this problem. So, keep those plants well irrigated and look for varieties that are resistant to this problem. And remember that there’s always next year!

This is Donna Teasley with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke Center. If you would like more information about this program you can call us at 439-4460.