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Friday, May 6, 2016

Handful of concerns regarding tomatoes

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nothing beats having a nice, juicy, ripe tomato on the dinner table. Everyone has their favorite type of tomato.

For me, nothing can compare to a Roma Tomato. Even though it's hard to agree on what is the best type of tomato, everyone will agree that it is awful when you end up with a bummer tomato crop.

Unfortunately, I have been receiving reports from local gardeners about issues with their tomatoes.

The number one issue that local gardeners have contacted me about is tomatoes with sunken in, scarred bottoms.

Many of the gardeners didn't even know they had a problem with their tomato until they picked it because other than the bottom being scarred, the tomato looks otherwise healthy.

This problem the gardeners are describing over the phone is Blossom-end Rot. Blossom-end Rot is a dry, black, leathery scar on the blossom-end of the fruit brought on by a calcium deficiency.

To prevent this, try to ensure your plant always has proper moisture. Additionally, it wouldn't hurt to add a little calcium around the base of your tomato plants this year and next.

Blossom-end Rot isn't the only problem that gardeners should be on the lookout for when harvesting tomatoes. They should look for other environmental stress disorders such as Blossom Drop, Fruit Cracks, Sunscald and Catfacing.

Blossom Drop is caused by extreme temperatures when fruiting, resulting in blossoms falling off the plant. Unfortunately, we have already seen extreme temperatures that may have impacted your tomato crop and even your green bean crop this year. Like tomatoes, green beans can experience Blossom Drop due to extreme temperatures.

Fruit cracks will usually occur during hot, rainy periods when the fruits are exposed to the sun. Luckily, the lack of rain might have prevented us from being impacted by this environmental stress disorder. However, if we would end up getting rain and the temperatures stay above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then we might have some Fruit Cracks appear.

Sunscald is when the fruit will first develop a yellow or white patch that will later blister and dry. This occurs when there is poor foliage cover resulting in the fruit being exposed to sun. This often happens when the tomato plant has been pruned, staked improperly, you have sprawling plants, or even in unhealthy plants. The best prevention for sunscald is to cage your plants when possible.

Catfacing is the puckering and scarring at the blossom end of the fruit. The cavities created by Catfacing may penetrate deep into the fruit making it impossible to eat. This is often caused by cool, cloudy weather at blooming or using some herbicides (2,4-D). Yet again, we may not see much Catfacing in our tomatoes this year as we did not have the cool cloudy weather during blooming that caused the blossom to stick to the young, developing fruit resulting in the malformation.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Aug. 3-19 -- Indiana State Fair,

* Aug. 21 -- Start of the Indiana Master Naturalist Course, 6-9 p.m. Contact 812-829-5020 if you want to sign up, $55, and

*Oct. 4-6 -- State Master Gardener Conference, Hamilton Co. Fairgrounds, for more information, go to