One common problem you may encounter when you grow tomatoes is the sudden presence of splits and cracks. You may find the situation of tomatoes splitting open very frustrating especially if you did your best to care for them.
Fortunately, there are ways to fix them. You will learn about how to stop your red or green tomatoes from splitting and cracking open through this article.
What Causes Tomato Plants to Split and Crack?
In most cases, tomatoes split open because of water. It could be that the tomato plants receive inconsistent amounts of water. There are also instances when they are totally dry then a sudden heavy rain or monsoon hit them.
The problem with splits and cracks is also a common occurrence in the heirloom tomatoes variety. Once parched tomatoes gain access to water, there is a high chance for the fruit to respond to it through excessive absorption.
When the plants absorb too much water, it is highly likely for the tomato skin to be unable to handle the sudden growth. This can lead to them splitting due to the pressure inside. It also tends to occur in fruits that are almost ripe.
Two Kinds of Cracks Occurring in Split Tomatoes
Two types of cracks may also develop in tomatoes when they get exposed to high amounts of water all of a sudden – the radial cracks and the concentric cracks.
- Radial cracks – Radial cracking can be seen on the topmost part of the tomato. The tomatoes crack close to the end of the stem, too.
- Concentric cracks – Concentric cracking, on the other hand, develops a set of rings on top of the tomato fruit. Expect the concentric crack to be less pronounced compared to the radial. The tomatoes crack in this type can also leave thin brown rings behind once healed.
Signs that you are Overwatering your Tomato
As mentioned a while ago, the splits and cracks usually happen in tomatoes because of overwatering. To avoid that from happening, here are some signs that indicate that you have already provided excess water.
Swellings on lower leaves
If the lower leaves start to swell, then it indicates that you are overwatering your plant, making them even prone to getting split open. Catch this sign as early as possible so you can lower its effects immediately and save the almost ripe fruits from cracking.
You will also notice soggy soil at the plant’s base. In some cases, the sogginess is brought on by using the wrong type of soil. In case the water does not drain well, the tomato may split even if you only supply it with a slight amount of water.
You will also know if you have overwatered the vine by determining how long it has been since you last watered it. Note, though, that this vine is quite sensitive to watering fluctuations so be extra careful in reintroducing water to it.
What Should You Do with Split Tomatoes?
If unfortunately, you end up having tomato cracking or splitting in your garden, the best thing you can do is to harvest them immediately. Remember that since the split and cracked tomatoes are already open, there is also a high chance for damage from insects or rot to happen.
You can’t totally prevent splitting but you can rest assured knowing that it is still safe for you to eat the affected ones. Just make sure that you examine them closely first. Observe for signs of rot or insects.
Toss away any harvested fruit that oozes or has a sour smell. You can then use the ones that are still in good condition despite the splits in your favorite recipes or dishes. You can’t store them for long, which means eating or cooking them immediately is necessary to enjoy these treats from your garden.
How to Resolve Tomatoes Splitting Open?
As part of the most common problems affecting tomatoes, you need to learn how to prevent and fix those that tend to split and crack open. Here are the things you can do:
Water correctly and consistently
Note that tomatoes love to receive a consistent supply of water. During the summer season, you need to provide this plant with about an inch water every week. This amount of water includes the rain, so it is advisable to water them less if the weather forecast states that there will be summer showers.
If your garden experiences an extremely dry weather, it is safe to water your tomatoes every 2 to 3 days. One way to know whether your tomato plant needs water is to stick your index finger at around one inch into the soil. It should also be around the plant’s base.
If you feel that it is still moist, then you don’t have to water yet. If it is already dry, then it is time for you to provide the vine with its needed water. Water the plant correctly, too, and you can do that by targeting its base.
You also have to exert an effort not to splash soil on the leaves, so you can prevent soil-borne diseases, like Septoria leaf spot and blight from spreading.
Another tip when it comes to watering tomatoes correctly is to do it deeply. It would even be much better if you utilize drip irrigation. Deep watering done regularly can lessen the possible impact caused by a sudden and heavy rain.
With that, you have an assurance that your plants will not deal with the shock caused by excess water that follows the constant dry conditions. This can, therefore, prevent the fruit from splitting.
Mulching is also one way to stop the tomato fruit from cracking and splitting. What you have to do is to prepare some organic mulch, like straw, shredded bark, wood chips, and pine needles.
Give tomatoes around three-inch layer of this organic mulch. One advantage of adding mulch is that it can maintain consistent moisture levels in the soil, thereby lowering the risk of splits and cracks.
Provide proper drainage
You also have to do something to improve drainage when growing tomatoes. If possible, plant them in raised beds. It is also advisable to plant tomatoes in containers that have enough drainage holes to make them drain well whenever there is a deluge.
Containers and raised beds tend to have good drainage capabilities. Just ensure that you are using loose soil – one that does not compact that easily.
Note, though, that once the water drains, it is possible for some nutrients to leech out of the container, too. You may have to nourish your plants again when that happens by using an organic fertilizer to feed them.
Find resistant varieties
Another thing that you can do to resolve tomato splitting is to look for and use only resistant varieties. Examine the seed catalog or label so you can buy only resistant ones, those that can resist and prevent splitting.
Remember that there are several hybrid varieties that are not only highly productive and disease-resistant. These plant varieties are also less prone to having tomatoes split.
Use the correct hose
In this case, you can take full advantage of a soaker hose or drip hose. Both types of hose can give your tomatoes a steady and slow supply of water. The two can also supply water to the roots of the plant, which is more beneficial to its growth.
Feed with the right fertilizer
Tomatoes are heavy feeders so there are times when they need additional nutrients that only the right fertilizers can provide. The perfect fertilizer for your plant that will help prevent tomatoes split will depend on the specific elements that are unique to the soil where you planted them.
You can also choose the right one based on what is lacking in the soil, whether it is potassium, phosphorus, or nitrogen. One reminder when trying to prevent the risk of having tomatoes split is that a fertilizing solution that is too high in nitrogen is not advisable.
The reason is that the high nitrogen content may cause rapid growth, resulting in tomatoes splitting instead of preventing it.
Pick tomatoes early
If you already have almost-ripe tomatoes, then maybe it is time to pick them. It is even more important to do the picking of the fruit, especially if you expect that there will be a major rainstorm soon.
One sign that you have almost-ripe tomatoes that are ready for picking is when they turn a bit pink. The fact that it already changed its color means that it is already in the breaker phase, the time when tomatoes are already in their full size.
Picking tomatoes early can prevent them from getting overwhelmed by excessive soil moisture. Note that tomatoes will continue ripening even after you have picked them. Just store them in a room temperature area, preferably around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit until they are already ready for eating.
If you plan to grow tomatoes, then add calcium to the soil beneath them once you begin planting. Some of the sources of calcium for your plant are agricultural lime and powdered eggshells.
Even a small dose of calcium is sufficient in covering the plant’s whole lifespan. This means it will no longer be necessary to put on more calcium right after. You can also use a fertilizer optimized specifically for tomatoes.
This already contains calcium, which means incorporating some of it into the planting hole then feeding it with fertilizer as you normally would throughout the growing season, should work fine.
Grow them in a controlled environment
It is also possible for you to control the splits by growing the vine in a specific environment that you will be capable of handling or controlling. It may be a great idea to grow your plants outdoors but when a storm comes and drowns them in water, be prepared to witness a lot of cracks and splits in them.
A more controlled environment for them would be a sheltered area or greenhouse. That way, you can prevent rainfall from getting into the plants, thereby controlling the environment and giving them one that’s ideal for their survival.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you keep tomatoes from splitting?
The ultimate solution when it comes to preventing tomato splitting is to water them adequately and correctly. It also helps to ensure that the soil has proper drainage and to add organic mulch, like those from wood chips. In addition, planting resistant varieties guaranteed to prevent certain situations from leading to tomatoes split can help a lot.
Why did all my tomatoes split?
The most common cause for the split tomatoes in your garden is water. It could be that you are underwatering or overwatering the plants. You have to supply tomatoes with just the right amount of water and ensure that it drains well.
Can you eat split tomatoes?
If the tomatoes in your garden crack or split open, you may notice that they kind of have a strange look, causing you to wonder if they are safe and good to eat. One thing to keep in mind about split tomatoes is that they are at risk of quickly getting infected by insect damage and molds.
This is the reason why you have to pick them immediately after you notice the splitting. You need to use and eat split tomatoes as quickly as possible since you can’t expect them to last long. In other words, they are safe to eat or are edible but you have to be quick in eating them.
If only tiny growth cracks appear on the tomatoes that tend to get healed over time, then it would be okay to eat them, too. You can often find these cracks in huge heirloom tomatoes, specifically on the topmost parts of the fruit.
If your tomatoes split open or crack, do not worry too much because there are still ways to resolve them. You can even make this vine less prone to forming splits and cracks on their vines by knowing exactly what you should watch out for when growing tomatoes. Also, it is crucial to water consistently and harvest ripe fruits to prevent splitting tomatoes from happening.