This is a great time of year for tomato lovers. Gardens are full of vine ripened tomatoes. As gardeners head out to pick their prized fruits, some have reported cracks on the shoulders of the fruit. This is known as fruit cracking. I have noticed it on some of my large tomato varieties. Fruit cracking is a disorder that is associated with large variations in soil moisture. Growth cracks result from rapid fruit development and can occur when water is suddenly available to the plant after a period of extended dryness. This sudden uptake of water results in cracking of the ripening fruit. There are two types of cracks generally observed: radial and concentric. Radial cracks spread out from the stem while concentric cracks appear on the shoulders of the tomato forming arcs or circles. Providing even soil moisture by watering regularly and by mulching can help reduce the occurrence of growth cracks. If you see growth cracks on your tomatoes (not all varieties are equally susceptible), harvest the fruit and allow to ripen indoors. The fruit is still edible, just cut away the affected area.
Catfacing is another condition you might find. This involves irregular bulges or leather-like scarring forming on the blossom end of the tomato. This occurs when cold weather strikes at the time blossoms are developing. This results in the death of certain cells creating deformities in the fruit. Catfacing is most often found in the larger tomato varieties such as “beefsteak” cultivars. Though your tomato may look odd, the fruit are still fine for eating – as with fruit cracks, when you have a fruit with catfacing, just trim away the affected areas.