Common Tomato Problems, Part 2
There are a number of problems that can happen to fruit and fruit quality. One of the most common one is stink bugs. Stink bugs stick their little beaks into the tomato and poke around, and so they tend to disrupt the tissue of the fruit. It doesn’t ripen very well in the places where it’s caused damage.
Sometimes, they’ll hit green fruit as well. In that case, you’ll get sunken pits or other spots. Another issue that we have with tomatoes is sun scalding. If the plant foliage doesn’t cover the fruit very well it can get sunburnt. This area of the tomato is all white and shriveled, and it typically won’t ripen. So, one of the best ways to handle that is by having a nice, dense foliage canopy to help protect that fruit.
Other issues that can happen with tomatoes are calcium deficiency, otherwise known as blossom end rot. Often times it will cause a large, brown, shriveled area on the bottom of the fruit. And sometimes it will cause small flecks of brown and shriveled tissue. The reason that this happens is because the plant goes from periods of severe drought to severe soil moisture. And these fluctuations in the water status of the plant leads to calcium deficiencies within the tissue.
Tomatoes are very susceptible to cracking of the fruit. Here you can see the cracking of the green fruit. This happens because of excessive moisture events and also because of excessive fertilizer. If you use too much nitrogen you can end up with cracking across the top of green fruit. Oftentimes on red and ripening fruit, you can have splits that occur around the fruit and split the ripening skin. And again, it’s just a matter of soil moisture management.
One of the things that you make sure that you do is give the plants an even amount of water daily or every other day or every third day. It needs to be on a regular schedule. And also remember to not water them after heavy rain events.
This feature story prepared with Cary Rivard, Kansas State University Research and Extension Fruit and Vegetable Specialist. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.