Why Do Tomatoes Split on the Plant? (Effective Control)


Tomatoes can sometimes split while still on the plant, which can happen at any stage of their development. Some people can salvage a split tomato, especially if it breaks when ripe and has not been that way for long. If the tomato splits before it can be harvested, it can give way to infection and rot. Read on as I take you through different ways that you can control tomato split.

Tomatoes split on the plant due to fast, sudden growth. The flesh increases in size, and the skin cannot keep up. It happens when tomatoes are overwatered either manually or by a heavy downpour after being allowed to dry out. Prevent by ensuring the plants remain moist.

Tomato splits are common in any garden, and they can be very disappointing, especially if they are just about to ripen. Let’s look at why tomatoes split in more detail.

Why Do Tomatoes Split On the Plant?

Tomato splits happen when the contents of the fruit grow at a rapid pace that the skin cannot match. There are two types of tomato splits; concentric cracking, which happens on the top of the fruit, and vertical cracking, which splits the tomato from the bottom.

Our research has concluded that the concentric breaks mainly occur in the wider variety of tomatoes, such as the Heirloom Beefsteak kind.

Tomato splits can happen during the tomatoes’ development, but the most disappointing is when the fruit is just about ripe. The bad news about this problem is that the cracks provide a way for bacteria to infect the tomato, but the good news is you can control and prevent it from happening with minimum effort.

As an informed gardener, I put a few practical measures to ensure my tomatoes reach maturity without splits. Some of them include frequent watering and proper mulching. Read on, and I’ll let in on a few more secrets on preventing and controlling tomato splits.

How Can Tomato Splits Be Controlled?

Tomato splits are common in any tomato garden, but I’ve worked out a system that has proven effective in my garden. Here are a few of the strategies that have worked out for me these last few seasons.

Regular Deep Watering

Tomato plants are susceptible to any fluctuations in the amount of water they get. When I plant my tomatoes, I start them off with watering once a day.

Once we are in summer, I up the number to two times a day because of the extra heat. If you are wondering how to check if your plant has enough water, it’s pretty simple. All you need to do is stick a finger into the soil at the base of the plant; if the ground feels moist, all is well; if not, then you can give the plant a good watering.

If you are planning on traveling and you cannot find anyone to water your tomatoes, you could invest in a drip irrigation system that keeps the plants moisturized even when you are away. I would recommend about an inch of water each week.

Once I decide to increase the number of times I water them, I try and do it gradually so the plant does not get splits. You can start by adding a quarter of what you are currently watering the plant and work your way up from there.

Once the fruit has reached the desired size, you can stop watering the plant and let it focus on ripening the fruit. Once you stop watering the plant, it would be best not to go back and start watering again as you risk getting split tomatoes. The fruit is especially vulnerable to tomato splits.

Mulching

I like to make excellent thick mulch for the plant that is about three inches thick. You can use straw or pine needles to make your mulch. Mulch prevents the tomato from splitting by retaining moisture in the soil, so the plant does not get dehydrated, especially in the summer heat. If you can’t get straw or pine needles, you can use shredded bark, which is a lot easier to find.

A Controlled Environment

The best way to control tomato splits is to grow the plant in an environment that you can handle. Growing your plants outside is a great idea until a storm rolls in and drowns your plants in water, causing cracks on the tomatoes.

You could try using a greenhouse or a sheltered area, so rainfall does not get to the plants—the more control you have over the environment, the better. Don’t forget that the plant still needs sunlight to grow.

Picking the Tomato Early.

Most beginners will hesitate to pick their tomatoes early, but as long as the fruit has reached the desired size, you can go ahead and pick it. Tomatoes do ripen after they have been harvested. I grow my tomatoes outside, and sometimes I notice a rainstorm coming in that will cause tomato spits in my tomatoes.

The best thing to do in this case is to harvest the fruit before the storm hits. You do not have to wait until the fruit is crimson red to harvest it. Of course, if yours have not reached maturity, you should not pick them.

Creating Good Drainage

Good drainage is an excellent way of preventing tomato splits. I plant my tomatoes in a raised bed to let excess water and the plants stay healthy. To create a sound drainage system, you can use containers with drainage holes at the bottom. The quality of soil you use will determine how much water it retains, which is why I use soil that does not compact and traps water causing the tomato to crack

Picking a Resistant Variety.

Tomatoes that are resistant to splitting will be clearly labeled. I find that picking a suitable variety can make the difference between tomato splits and healthy fruit.

Hybrid varieties are my favorite kind because they offer the most value and are split-resistant. Below is a table of the most common varieties that are split and not slit resistant. Cracking is also something these will be resistant against.

Tomatoes Resistant To SplittingTomatoes Not Resistant To Splitting
Mountain Spring VFF HybridIncas
DaybreakIldi
Mountain Fresh VF HybridCostoluto Fiorentino
Spitfire VFFA HybridAstro Ibrido
Jet Star VF HybridRio Grande
Pink Girl VFT HybridTigerella
Monte Carlo VFN HybridSuper Sweet 100
Box Car WillieRed Alert
Big BeefAlicante
Big BoyBlack Beauty
BlondkopfchenBlack Cherry
Burpee’s Big GirlFlamenco
CelebrityGerman Pink
Chianti RoseMoneymaker

What Should You Do If Your Tomato Splits

Since some gardeners and hobbyists do not do their research before starting, they might find themselves with a few split tomatoes. So, what do you do when your tomatoes have already cracked?

Tomato splits expose the delicate contents to the environment, creating a way for infections and rot. In this case, I would advise that you harvest the fruit if you notice insects acting on the fruit; the best thing to do is pick the fruit to prevent insect damage. If you find you are suffering from other diseases then check out this article

I find that some of the tomatoes are still edible even after they have split on the skin. Use a good sharp knife to cut off the affected areas and enjoy the rest of the fruit, especially if your tomatoes develop cracks close to harvest time. Fast action is crucial in saving tomatoes that have already been affected by splits to avoid rot and insect damage. If the tomato smells sour or looks questionable, throw it away.

Only two things that money can’t buy

That’s true love and home grown tomatoes.

John Denver

Some Frequently Asked Questions About Tomato Splits

1. Can I Eat Split Tomatoes?

Concentric cracks are usually less apparent and can often heal themselves, making the fruit safe to eat. Vertical splits, however, are usually more damaging to the fruit and can leave the tomato vulnerable to infection and rot, making it inedible.

2. Should I Pick My Tomato When It Splits?

I find that it all depends on the extent of the damage to the fruit. If the tomato has been split asunder, it is wise to cut it off before it gets infected and affects the entire plant. However, if the concentric cracks appear and seem relatively small, you can leave the tomato on the plant.

Keep a keen eye on the fruit to make sure that it is progressing in the right direction. If you spot any signs of infection, such as an undesirable change in color or a strange smell, then cut the tomato off.

3. Can a Tomato Plant Recover from Tomato Splits?

The short answer is yes. I have observed that with the proper care, a split tomato can recover from splits. Not all tomatoes will recover from the break, as some will get infections or get insect damage.

4. How Do I Know When I Have Overwatered My Tomato Plants?

It might be hard to tell when you have gone overboard with watering the plants as a beginner. Let’s face it; every gardener loves watering plants because it is therapeutic.

So how would you know that you have gone overboard? The first signs will be swellings on the plant’s lower leaves that will eventually lead to tomato splits. If you can catch the signs earlier on, you can mitigate the effects sooner and maybe save your tomatoes from cracks.

The soil at the base of the plant will also look soggy. It happens mostly when the wrong kind of soil is used. If the earth does not let water drain through, you can expect your tomatoes to split even from the slightest watering.

Another way to tell is how long ago the gardener last watered the plant. Since the plant is so sensitive to fluctuations in watering, you should be careful how you reintroduce water to the plant.

Do it too fast, and you get tomato splits? I would advise that you start the plant with small amounts of water spread out throughout the day. It will depend on the season. If it is summertime, more water is needed. Any time before timeless water is needs

When it comes to tomato splits, the simple things matter. For example, if many people water the plants, then the chances of overwatering are higher.

Making sure that only one person is responsible for the watering will reduce the chances of getting tomato cracks. Doing your research will not hurt. Research is crucial because different tomato varieties require an additional amount of water to thrive.

Visit someone who has grown tomatoes before, learn a few tips on the kind of tomatoes they grow, and maybe start with those.

How To Grow Tomatoes Properly To Prevent Splitting

The video below will give you all the help you require to ensure you avoid splitting your tomatoes. Prevention as they say ios much better than cure.

Other FAQ’s for tomatoes

Conclusion on Why Do Tomatoes Split on the Plant?

Tomato splits may be reasonably expected, but a little bit of planning and keen attention to the plant will go a long way in keeping your harvest healthy and bountiful.

If you do get split tomatoes in your garden, do not fret, the problem can be fixed, and you can start now using these tips to keep your tomato smooth and healthy. Check out this article I wrote that will show you how to sort it out.

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Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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