How to Keep Tomatoes from Splitting Open

Why do my tomatoes split open, and what can I do about it? – John

Splitting usually happens after a hard rain, and it’s caused by the sudden change in moisture. A rapid increase in water levels will cause the insides of the fruit to swell faster than the skin can stretch, resulting in cracks.

This problem is worse in hot temperatures and during drought, as the plants respond by producing fruits with tougher skins that can’t handle sudden rapid growth.

While you can’t totally prevent it, splitting will be reduced if you take steps to keep moisture levels consistent within the plants.

Tips to Reduce Tomato Splitting:

  • Watering: Keep your tomato plants evenly and regularly watered, so that they aren’t as shocked by a hard rain. Avoid the cycle of drying out and then overwatering.
  • Mulching: Applying mulch around your tomato plants helps to even out moisture levels.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilize carefully, or use naturally-balanced compost, to prevent bursts of water-sensitive growth.
  • Picking: If you don’t use extra irrigation and therefore can’t control the amount of water, you can go out right after the rain and pick as many tomatoes as you can, and allow then to ripen off the vine.
  • Choosing Variety: Each variety of tomato is different – check out the varieties you’re planting to see if they’re more prone to splitting than others.
  • Enjoy: Finally, keep in mind that as long as the fruits are clean and insect-free, there’s nothing wrong with a split-open tomato!

Further Information

Julie

5 COMMENTS

  1. I have the issue with my tomatoes splitting on the top as the bottom turns red and top still green. About five splits constantly since planted in the spring to now middle of the summer in Texas. I keep the ground moist watering out of my lake every couple days. I used hay as a thick mulch over the entire garden to keep moisture constant. I don’t believe my issue is from the shock of heavy rain as I read all over the internet. My past gardens did not have this issue and I flood irrigated it regularly as well. On another note, if I don’t water like this the cucumbers let me know on the third day. Their temper tantrum ends within five minutes of lake water being applied.

    • Hi, Tom!
      For this question, we defer to our friends at the Cooperative Extension.
      Here’s more information on this topic: https://ask.extension.org/questions/151944
      Thanks for your question!

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