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Why Do My Tomatoes Look So Bad?

In part 2 of this tomatoes series, there are other tomato fruit problems that have nothing to do with fungus, bacteria or other diseases.  Some are avoidable by following recommendations in the UT Extension publication on tomato gardening.  The good news is while your tomatoes won’t look ready to sell at market or win a blue ribbon at the county fair, they should taste just fine.

Other Problems Causes

Like sunburn, fruit can be scalded by unfiltered sunlight.  This might occur because lower leaves withered and died due to blight or other problems.   (See Part 1.)  Avoid pruning lower leaves to give developing tomato fruit protection from the sun.

Tomato fruit may crack and scar if the fruit goes through a sudden growth spurt.  Cracks may run down along the sides of the fruit or form rings around the petiole.  Cracking may be caused by heavy rain, inconsistent irrigation or rapid maturation for other reasons.  Splitting/cracking  may be moderated by using mulch to keep roots more evenly moist.  As discussed in Part 1, drip irrigation is a more effective way of watering tomatoes and helps to prevent fungal infestations.

Catfacing is abnormal or uneven growth that develops at the blossom end of the tomato fruit.  This damage often occurs when temperatures drop below 50 degrees F during flowering and fruit set, resulting in poor pollination.  In this area, a more likely cause is excess heat, injury from use of some pesticides, and erratic soil moisture.  High nitrogen has also been shown to aggravate this disorder. Catfacing is occurs in some varieties, especially older varieties (heirlooms) like Brandywine.  Large tomato fruit are most susceptible.
Rodent Damage

There is no “cure” for rodent damage other than to attempt to remove rodents or picking fruit before fully ripe and allowing the fruit to ripen in an area more trafficked by humans, dogs, and other small animal predators.

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