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Why would my tomatoes crack before ripening?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I don't know what happened but I had a host of wonderful bright green tomatoes. The moment they started to ripen the cracked and none of them became a deep red. I have to varieties of heirloom tomatoes and maybe I should of picked the fruit at a certain time?

 

Thanks for any help you can offer.

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Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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post #2 of 17

Uneven watering schedule, or too much rain.

 

Some varieties are more easily cracked.

 

Some cracks are OK. They will heal over.

 

dcarch

post #3 of 17

Dcarch pretty much hit all the bases, Nicko.

 

Normally, when there is unusual cracking, it's due to a sudden influx of water. What happens is that the tomatoes try to grow larger, faster than the skin can accomodate the growth, with cracking as the result.

 

What's your watering schedule been like?

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 17

Wow, I thought it was simply due to letting them ripen on the vine vs picking when green and ripening with ethelyne gas.  I didn't realize you COULD grow large tomatoes without the skin cracking.

post #5 of 17

Depends what you mean by large, gobblygook. Some of mine were 18 ounces and better, this year, fully ripe, and nary a crack.

 

As dcarch points out, some varieties are more prone to cracking than others. And cracking during the green stages is less common that once the 'maters have taken on at least some color. But, almost always, sudden cracking is a function of inconsistent watering.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 17

The wife had this problem with her black krims (I think that's the correct spelling), but we have extremely sandy soil. So watering is a big deal. Added quite a bit of compost this last spring, that seemed to help. Her striped Romans don't seem to have that problem, or any of the smaller tomatoes for that matter.

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post #7 of 17

Black Krim is highly suseptible to cracking and splitting even under the best of conditions. That's one of many reasons it's not one of my favorites. In fact, I'm on record as stating that Black Krim is the most over-rated tomato being grown.

 

If you want a superlative black, try Paul Robeson, among others. Arguably the best of the blacks is Southern Nights. Unfortunately it's a determinate tomato, which doesn't work for most home gardens, and seed is nearly impossible to come by.

 

How'd y'all like the Striped Roman? Haven't grown it, myself, but get mixed reports.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 17

I absolutely think they are the best tomatoes (striped roman). Great to cook with, meaty, great flavor. Had a few with end rot early in the season but not many. And they look cool too. She also did some pearly pink which are kind of an odd tween, not quite full tomato but bigger than a cherry. As it turns out they were prolific. Cut in half they're the perfect size to dehydrate.

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post #9 of 17

FWIW, those 'tween size tomatoes are called "saladings." And you're right, they are the perfect size for drying once cut in half. Some of the smaller paste tomatoes, such as DePinto, are also perfect for that.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 17

To much watering.

See here http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/vegetables/tomato.html

and check # 11. I eat 'em anyway.

post #11 of 17

Bellybones, you need to read that a little closer. The stated cause isn't too much water, it's inconsistent water. They specifically say, in fact, that if water is withheld then, after ripening activity starts, water is restored, cracking can occur.

 

That said, I don't know which Extension Service produced that list, but I wouldn't trust any of it. Much of what they say is either out of date, patently incorrect, or (typical of the Extension Service and its Master Gardener book) presented in a "this is the only way" manner.

 

Cracked tomatoes are perfectly safe to eat providing no infection has taken place. That would mean either that the crack is newly formed, or has scabed over. Even then, it's best to cut the "bad" part away.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

...That said, I don't know which Extension Service produced that list, ...

 

Texas A & M, an extension service with a pretty good reputation
 

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post #13 of 17

That's really strange, because A&M does have a great rep. In fact, it's one of the best ag schools in the country.

 

But we need to keep in mind, too, that the Extension Service, while based at a land grant college, is not a department of it. It's part of the U.S.D.A., and plays by its own rules.  So it's possible that the Aggie's ag department never even made imputs to that list. Or it could just be an out-of-date list that came out of the electronic archives.

 

Either way, there is so much wrong with it as to make it all but useless. Sure, there's some valuable info buried amidst the crap. But the rest remains crap nontheless.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 17

I also have the same problem before. I never got any solution before, now that I'm able to read this post, I can surely make it right this time.

 

 

 

 

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

---- That would mean either that the crack is newly formed, or has scabed over. Even then, it's best to cut the "bad" part away.

 


Good thing to know.

Tomato skin is very water proof and slipery, all the chemical spray can be washed off the skin, except around the "bad" part.

 

dcarch
 

post #16 of 17

Living amongst a lot of small family truck farms and having worked with the local Organic Growers' Assoc. I can attest to the questionable acts and motives of both the USDA and the land grant university system. Not saying all they've done is crap, but the petrochem-agriculture industry is their master. Much as we see drug companies working to fund the creation of new doctors who reach for their prescription pad as a reflexive act upon seeing a patient. Organics and homeopathy are looked upon as some kind of kooky Libertarian thing that doesn't fit their mold, and they are correct... it doesn't, thankfully.

 

 We have grown over 150 varieties of tomatoes, 280 varieties of capsicums and hundreds of other vegetable varieties. The vast majority of tomatoes grown were heirloom, open pollinated, indeterminate varieties. The plants were trellised rather than staked to poles and cages, and the plants were pruned and trained throughout their vegetative growth stage. The plants had been started indoors in January, hardened off in specialized cold frames, and transplanted to their permanent beds from mid March to early April. Here in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. tomato transplants are typically not set out until around Mother's Day. The beds were built up wide rows that were mulched with compost that covered leaky hose irrigation (a porous hose made of recycled tires). The irrigation system provided de-chlorinated public water through a timer system that was equipped with a soil moisture sensor. The sensor could not call for water beyond the preset schedule but was able to suspend watering if moisture levels were too high (after a rain for example). Normal watering cycle was one long soaking every other day until flowering and then this was shortened but made daily since the temperatures had also climbed significantly by then.

 

Most of the transplants had developed about 24" of vegetative growth by this point and the lower half would be pruned off before placing them deep in the ground. A table spoon of Epsom salts was added to the bottom of each hole and the pruned stalks were treated with an organic auxin rooting compound. The roots zones were also inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi spores, and then the entire plant was surrounded by a Wall-o-water insulating collar after planting. Short 3' stakes were used to provide the plants support until they could reach the trellis.

 

Beneficial nematodes and insects were utilized along with kelp and fish emulsion fertilizers of our own making. The previous fall organic soil amendments had been added and a cover crop of legumes had been tilled in to add tilth and fix additional nitrogen. The capsicum and potato beds were also provided with cloches of a very light spun olefin where the tomatoes, et al, were not.

 

Our yields were ridiculous and the time invested in the trellising of the tomato plants was repaid a hundred fold both in terms of production and ease of harvest. We experienced none of the usual pest problems suffered by our chemical farming neighbors and even through a very soggy spring and extreme heat and dry spell we had no issues with fruit splitting while our commercial neighbor did, (he uses a more traditional overhead artificial rain type system rather than a root zone approach such as we had. His water usage was also totally unbelievable compared to ours).

 

Our plants, when pulled up at years end and examined, had at least five times the root mass of my neighbor's chem-farmed hybrids. I'm not just referring to the outer most reach of the roots but the density of the finer haired structures throughout. Our plants had also developed a root system that extended twice as deep. These were not plants that could be pulled out of the ground, they had to be dug up. This coupled with the moisture retention provided by the mulching,  worked to help mediate the naturally occurring wet and dry spells.

 

The new hybrids have been bred to have tough skins and structure that will allow them to survive the abuses of mechanical harvesting and processing. One of the biggest reasons that heirlooms are superior table fare is that they have been bred for taste. The reason that most grocers don't want them on the shelf is that they can't take the daily squeezing and prodding that the average customer subjects them to without bruising. They split easily because they have a more delicate skin and fruit structure. Of course this is also part of why they taste better to us, they have a thinner less tough skin and superior texture. There are also varieties that have become local favorites due to natural selection and their ability to resist certain pests or disease issues peculiar to their home turf. This can sometimes also cause some difficulties for home growers from other regions. Attempting to force a long season variety in Alaska is probably not going to be easy or develop optimum results even if you pull it off.

 

The plant's performance is attributable to where it all starts, with the roots. The more extensive and well developed the root system the better water and nutrient uptake will be throughout its life. The deeper they can reach, the less effected they are by drought and over watering. The healthier they remain during stressful environmental conditions the less likely they are to become susceptible to pests. The better prepared for all of those issues the higher the eventual yields and the better the quality of the fruit. If you feel that you've gotten the rest of the task well in hand then just get yourself a timer and try keeping your water delivery right on the ground, but not right up against the plant stem. Think about where the roots are when you're watering. Short frequent waterings are going to encourage shallow near surface root growth so try going longer and less frequently.

post #17 of 17

A couple of comments to your excellent post.

 

While I disagree with some of your procedures, it's nothing I can't live with. A matter of different strokes, rather than right and wrong. For instance, I see no reason to use rooting hormone if the seedling has been raised properly. But, then again, Carolyn Male and I argue over procedures and methods as well, so you're in good company.

 

Basically, it boils down to the way my buddy Roger Postley starts his tomato-growing seminars and workshops: "There is," he insists, "absolutely only one right way to grow a tomato plant," (long pause), "And that's the way that works best for you."

 

What I do object to is this: suffered by our chemical farming neighbors. I've devoted a lot of time and energy educating gardeners to the fact that anything they put on or in the soil is a chemical (such as that dihydrousmonooxylate you pour on your garden every couple of days). And that if all 16 necessary nutrients are present in soluble form, the plant doesn't care whether they come from manure or Monsanto. So, in future, if you'd use the term "synthetic" or "synthetic (fertilizer, insecticide, fungicide, whateverside)" rather than "chemical" I'd appreciate it.

 

They split easily because they have a more delicate skin and fruit structure.

 

Here you are generalizing from a relatively small sample. Of the 6,000 or so named heirloom and other open pollinated tomatoes do you really believe there are none with thick skins? None with tough fruit structure? None that do not have superlative flavor? I guarantee there are several in each of those categories.

 

Generally speaking, heirlooms (particularly those we now call "family herilooms") were maintained because they had great flavor. That's true. But there are other criteria that were used as well. Thicker skinned tomatoes, for instance, were preferred for canning. Large Red wasn't dropped by canners because it had thick skin, but because of its large, fluted shoulders which made processing difficult. And for a real eye opener, check out the thickness and toughness on the skin of Krasnodar Titans.

 

There are others that we continue to grow because of their historical worth, rather than because of their flavor and texture. Yellow Pear cherry tomatoes, for instance, are very thick skinned and relatively tasteless. But they go back at least to 1750. And, to be fair, they look real pretty on a plate, which is why upscale chefs jumped on them when they were rediscovered in the 1980s,

 

The Little White cucumber is as close to tasteless as a vegetable can be. But it's historical value (Jefferson grew and popularized it) makes it worth preserving. In fact, there is evidence that the line in my collection came from Jefferson, and I'll continue maintaining it for that reason. But I don't eat the bland things.

 

I bring this up because there is a real danger in making claims that are easily repudiated. It opens the door for those on the opposite side of the discussion to disclaim your whole argument.

 

It's the same as the claim that vegetables grown organically taste better than those grown using synthetics. As soon as I disprove that patently false claim I can then use it to show that all the organic claims are BS. There are, to be sure, numerous very good reasons why organic growing makes sense. But better-tasting produce is not one of them.

 

What I'm saying is that being zealous is one thing. Just don't let your enthusiasm lead you in the wrong direction and, thus, provide armament for the anti-organics, anti-open pollinated, pro-frankenfood proponents.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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