Tomato Quirks Part 5 – Splits & Holes

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This is Part Five of a seven part series on some quirks that can be found with tomatoes. If you missed the first four articles, you can check them out here:

Tomato Quirks Part 1 – Catfacing

Tomato Quirks Part 2 – Bumpy Stems

Tomato Quirks Part 3 – Green Shoulders

Tomato Quirks Part 4 – Sunscald

Tomato Quirks Part 6 – Spotted Tomatoes

Tomato Quirks Part 7 – Leaf Roll

Why Are My Tomatoes Splitting?

Splitting tomatoes can be very common when you have a long period of dry weather, then a sudden thunderstorm that brings a lot of rain in a short time. The sudden influx of water to the tomatoes is what causes the skins to split.

Once a tomato forms and begins to ripen, the outer skin will toughen up some after a period of dry weather. When you get a thunderstorm that brings heavy rain, the tomato plant will take up the rainwater very quickly. In fact, it takes up the water so quickly that the insides of the tomato will grow faster than the skin can expand – thus causing the skin to split open or crack. Split tomatoes can be quite common when dry farming tomatoes.

Split Tomatoes

While minor cracking is not harmful to the taste of the tomato, it should be consumed as soon as the splits are noticed. Just cut out the exposed area and use the rest of the tomato as you please. The exposed flesh of the tomato caused by a split can develop black mold and begin to rot if left on the vine for too long. If you have any questions it is better to discard the tomato than take any chances. Tomatoes that are molded or beginning to rot can be added to your compost pile.

Cracked Tomatoes

How Do I Prevent My Tomatoes From Splitting

The best prevention for splitting tomatoes is to water the plants consistently. By regularly watering your tomatoes, the outer skins of the tomatoes will not toughen up, allowing room for growth. You can use a drip irrigation system, or soaker hoses to help with watering tasks. Using these tools will also help control diseases by watering just the roots of the plant, and not the leaves.

For more information about splitting and cracking tomatoes, please check out What Causes A Tomato To Crack Or Split?.

Holes In The Tomato

The previously mention tomato quirks have all been due to environmental causes, but holes are generally caused by a pest. From time to time you may find a tomato that has a hole (or several holes) in the sides or top of the fruit. These are more than likely caused by a worm of some type, or slugs.

Tomato Fruitworm

Tomato FruitwormThe Tomato Fruitworm will create a hole, usually on the stem side of the tomato, and bury itself inside the tomato. This worm will tunnel throughout the tomato, and also defecate inside the tunnels. Once the Tomato Fruitworm does this the tomato is inedible. The Tomato Fruitworm should be eliminated, and the tomato thrown into the compost pile.

It is very difficult to defend against this pest. Beneficial insects are important when trying to control any pest, including the Tomato Fruitworm. The use of an organic pesticide, such as Bt, can be used in selected areas.

Corn earworms can also tunnel into tomatoes, and can be controlled using the same methods as with Tomato Fruitworms.

Armyworms

Southern ArmywormsArmyworms can also tunnel into your tomatoes. The worm will also enter the stem end of the tomato, and feed on the meat of the fruit. Typically Armyworms will also introduce a fungus into the tomato, rendering it inedible. These worms can also chew on leaves and leave bacterial issues behind.

Armyworms are difficult to control as well, but implement the same methods used for the Tomato Fruitworm.

Tomorrow’s Tomato Quirk will be on tomatoes with weird spots. You don’t want to miss this quirk, so please subscribe to out RSS Feed, or by bookmarking us.

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Comments

  1. A quick question, Tee…

    How practical would it be to surround tomato plants with some kind of fine netting as a barrier against the various larger pests?

    Would such a measure interfere with pollination? If netting were used after a period of time–before pests are noticed–perhaps pollinating insects would have time to do their work before the pests followed?

    Alos–I have read about a spray-on substance which claims to help “set” tomato fruits (and other crops) when sprayed onto the blossoms; any truth to those claims?

    Thanks!

  2. Holes keep appearing in our tomatoes. There are ants on the plants. Can they be causing the holes? What should we do?

    • Hi Richard – I doubt the ants are causing the holes. The holes are more than likely a small worm called the tomato fruitworm. They will eat a hole in the tomato and sit inside gobbling on the tomato’s insides. They are tough to catch and even more tough to treat. The best thing to use is an organic form of Bt called Thuricide.

      • Is it ok to cut that half of the tomato off and eat the other half?

        • Hi Mindi – If you have a splitting tomato you can cut the split area out and eat the rest. There are times when a white or black mold can start growing in the exposed areas. If this happen you can cut those areas out and blanch the tomato before eating if you like.

  3. they say worms inside tomatoes are hard to get rid of im going to try some different method and see what really works. Its impossible to get a straight answer on any of these websites

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