Why Do Tomatoes Split?

Watching all your tomatoes growing up, just like the kids, but this is seasonal (ha-ha!) and waiting for them to ripen to finally taste them! But one day, you observe that your tomatoes are starting to split and crack. Wait, what?

horizontal tomato split and crack

Why do tomatoes split? From one day to another, you just see a big crack on them.

I have bad news and good ones for you. Tomato split is the most common problem when you grow them.

The good news is that tomato split is not caused by pests or diseases, and this problem can be prevented. Tomatoes split or cracks when they don’t fit into their skin anymore. The fruit outpaces the growth of its skin.

The bad news is that the cracks can provide a home for bacteria, insects, or fungi that will cause the fruits to rot.

In this article, I will explain why exactly do tomatoes split, how to prevent splitting and cracking, and whether you can eat them or not.

Why Do Tomatoes Split?

An inconsistent amount of water, such as heavy rains after dry conditions, or sudden heatwave after heavy rains, or just simply inconsistent watering, is causing the tomatoes to split and crack.

Most of the times splitting affect ripen tomato fruits, but this can affect green tomatoes as well.

The skin of the tomatoes splits when the water triggers the inside of the tomato fruit to grow faster than the skin. These cracks can be horizontal or vertical.

How to Prevent Tomatoes from Splitting?

As I said, tomato splitting is very common, especially after heavy rains. However, you can prevent this problem if you pay attention to a few details.

And now you might ask me: how am I going to stop the rain or control the weather?

You cannot control the weather, but there are other things you can do to play along with the weather and your tomatoes will still not split.

Consistent Watering

Try watering your tomatoes consistently, so the soil doesn’t dry out. If you forget to water once, don’t soak it the next time you water.

It is better to water more frequently with less water, rather than soak them rarely. This will cause splitting for sure.

Also, when the forecast brings rains, you should not water the tomatoes. During dry weather, try to keep up with watering, and if the tomato plants need more watering than usual, then water them. Do not let them dry out.

Watering Technique

As I said above, tomato plants need consistent watering.

This can be achieved best if you use the right hose, such as a drip hose or soaker hose. These will ensure a slow and steady supply of water for your tomato plants.

Both systems bring the water directly to the roots of the tomato plants, and this benefits the plant in the best way possible.

Using Mulch

Using quality mulch for your tomato plants is a good idea, especially if you live in a drier climate.

Mulch, such as wood chips, bark, straw, or pine needles, helps the soil retain the moisture for longer; therefore, this does not dry out as quickly as it would without the mulch.

Fertilize Adequately

Because tomatoes are heavy feeders, they need to be fertilized regularly for optimal growth and crop.

However, not using the right fertilizer, or using too much of it, can cause tomato split.

You should always read the instructions of the fertilizer and use it as directed. Also, try to use a fertilizer that is specially made for tomato plants.

You should also pay attention to the soil’s needs, because too much nitrogen in the soil, can cause tomato fruits to grow too fast and can lead to tomato split.

Picking Tomatoes

Another trick to prevent tomato split is to pick them early.

I mentioned earlier that tomato split can affect green tomatoes also, but most tomatoes are splitting when they are ripened.

To prevent this, you can pick tomatoes as soon as they start to change their color from green to slightly pink.

This color change means that the fruit reached its full size and starts to ripen. Once this breaker stage kicks in, the tomato is able to fully ripen on the window sill or in a box or paper bag.

If you prefer to leave tomatoes on the vine to ripen, then you should always check the weather forecast to avoid any unexpected rain.

Pick your tomatoes as soon as they are fully ripened and don’t leave them to overripe because they can get damaged easier.

vertical tomato split and crack

Can You Eat Split Tomatoes?

Before eating a split tomato, take into consideration the size of the crack. If this is too big and too deep, the bacteria, insects, or fungi can easily enter into the tomato.

To prevent this problem, you should pick cracked tomatoes as soon as you observe the splitting problem.

If the tomatoes are still fresh and healthy, they can be safely eaten even if they are cracked.

You can simply cut out the split, and then the rest of the tomato can be used in any dish as you would use a totally healthy tomato.

You can eat them fresh, in a salad or sandwich, or cook them in your favorite recipe.

Wrap Up

Tomato split is a common problem, but the good thing is that this problem can be easily prevented.

If you pay attention to the weather forecast and you water and fertilize adequately and consistently, then the chances of having split tomatoes are reduced significantly.

However, even if a few of your tomatoes will split hence the weather, these can be still used in your kitchen fresh or cooked.



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