Backyard Tomatoes

Backyard Tomatoes

A Guide for Growing Your Own Tomatoes 

What Causes Tomatoes to Split or Crack ? (and How to Prevent it)

Tomatoes cracking or splitting, green or ripe, is not uncommon.  But if you are new to growing tomatoes it can be disheartening.   In this Article we will discuss why your tomatoes may be cracking or splitting and perhaps more importantly answer the question ‘Are they still ok to eat’?

Tomato plant splitting can be attributed to various factors. Overwatering, erratic watering schedules, and rapid growth are common culprits.  Maintaining a consistent watering schedule and balanced fertilization will combat splitting. Don’t let weather fluctuations catch you off guard – shield your plants and pick tomatoes at the right time for a harvest free of cracks.

Why do Tomatoes Split?

Split Tomato


Tomatoes can split or crack for several reasons, and it’s a common issue for gardeners. Here are some of the primary reasons why tomatoes may split:

  1. Water Fluctuations: Inconsistent watering is a common cause of tomato splitting. When the soil is allowed to dry out and then is suddenly soaked, the tomatoes absorb water rapidly, causing the fruit to expand quickly and the skin to crack.
  2. Variety: Some tomato varieties are more prone to splitting than others. Certain types of tomatoes have thinner skins, making them more susceptible to cracking.
  3. Weather Conditions: Changes in weather, particularly during the ripening period, can contribute to tomato splitting. Rapid changes in temperature and humidity, such as hot days followed by heavy rainfall, can lead to the fruit expanding too quickly and the skin not being able to keep up.
  4. Overripe Tomatoes: Overripe tomatoes are more prone to splitting. As tomatoes ripen, the skin becomes less flexible, and if the fruit receives a sudden influx of water, it may crack.
  5. Nutrient Imbalance: Inadequate or excessive nutrients can affect the structure of the fruit. Inconsistent nutrient levels in the soil may lead to irregular growth and increased susceptibility to splitting.
  6. Pruning Practices: Improper pruning or excessive removal of foliage can expose the tomatoes to direct sunlight. This exposure can result in uneven heating and increase the chances of splitting.

How to Prevent Tomatoes from Splitting or Cracking?

To minimize the risk of tomato fruit splitting, consider the following practices:

  • Consistent Watering: Maintain a regular watering schedule to provide consistent moisture to the plants.
  • Mulching: Apply mulch around the base of the tomato plants to help regulate soil moisture and temperature.
  • Choose Resistant Varieties: Choose tomato varieties that are less prone to splitting.
  • Control Nutrient Levels: Ensure proper soil fertility and nutrient balance for healthy plant growth.
  • Harvest Timely: Harvest tomatoes when they are ripe but not overripe to reduce the risk of cracking.

By addressing these factors, you can reduce the likelihood of tomatoes splitting and promote healthy fruit development.

What to do if your Tomatoes Split or Crack

Can you still eat tomatoes that have split? Yes, you can! While the appearance may be affected, the internal flesh of the tomato is usually still edible and safe to consume. However, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Quality and Freshness: If the tomato is split, it’s best to use it as soon as possible. The exposed flesh is more susceptible to spoilage, so quick consumption is recommended.
  2. Trimming: If only a portion of the tomato is affected, you can trim away the damaged area and use the rest. This is especially applicable if the split is minor.
  3. Cooking: If you’re not comfortable with the appearance of split tomatoes, consider using them in cooked dishes. Cooking can help hide the visual imperfections, and the flavour can still be excellent.
  4. Check for Spoilage: Examine the tomato for any signs of mould, off odours, or sliminess. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to compost it.
  5. Use in Recipes: Split tomatoes can be used in sauces, soups, stews, or any recipe where the appearance is not crucial. Cooking them down can salvage their flavour and nutritional value.

While split tomatoes may not be as visually appealing as undamaged ones, they are generally safe to eat, especially if you consume them promptly and use them in cooked dishes.

CULTIVATE, LEARN & ENJOY!
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