Splitting tomatoes? Here’s why and what to do.

Posted on: August 21, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

I’ve been getting lots of questions about tomatoes splitting.

Why are they splitting?

This usually happens after a heavy rain. The plant takes up the water which is more than the tomato itself can handle and then the skin splits. This is different than cracking, which happens a lot on the tops of bigger tomatoes. splitting is mot often along the length of the fruit.

Cherry tomatoes often split when there's a hard rain.

Cherry tomatoes often split when there’s a hard rain.

Some varieties are more prone to this than others. ‘Sungold’ is an orange cherry that is notorious for splitting, but the flavor is so prized the splitting is overlooked, at least in my garden. Thin skinned varieties, like many of the heirlooms I grow, are also going to split and most do this after already ripening. It’s no big deal to me, I’ll just harvest the tomato and leave it on the windowsill until completely ripe. It’s not the sun on the windowsill that ripens them, they just need a little more time and that’s a place I won’t forget about them. When left on the vine, pests can get to them and sometimes they will also start to get moldy and gross.

Cherry tomatoes often split when there's a hard rain.

Pick tomatoes as so0n as possible after splitting.

How to stop splitting

Keeping plants watered properly during a dry spell will help avert splitting. Mulching with a thick layer of straw will help too. Varieties with thicker skins will also fight off the problem. I started poking around the Internet looking for resistant varieties and found ‘Sungold’ on a list. It will split when there’s a chance of rain!

It’s nothing I worry about, grow a few different varieties, some will split, other’s wont.

Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or doster@535mediallc.com. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”