Need a plan for better tomatoes

fcc0(Central PA)March 4, 2013

I have many years of experience with tomatoes and almost always have a good enough crop. BUT, I have had to put up with Blossom End Rot (BER) and Cracked tomatoes forever and I NEED A PLAN to deal with these two problems. You can look these up on the web and get the constant repetition of the same tired facts, blah, blah, blah even water uptake for cracking and blah blah blah calcium for BER. Right. same old. I have always mulched my tomatoes heavily and keep the water supply pretty constant, as evidenced by the leaves which never even wilt. In spite of this, crack city, especially late in the season.. I have to pick the fruit a little under-ripe and let it finish indoors if I want to avoid cracking. Cherry tomatoes are really bad. The clusters are made up of perfect unripe fruits, perfect light red fruits, and ripe ones, which are ALL cracked. I have tried over a dozen varieties of cherry tomatoes and they all seem pretty susceptible. And each year BER gets almost all of the first 4 or 5 fruits to set on each plant. Thankfully, I can wait this out and the remaining crop is free of this problem.

I am wondering if anyone has had either of these problems, taken specific action, and saw a significant reduction in the problem afterwards?

I also wonder if there are people out there in the midwest, midatlantic, or northeast who never get BER or never have crackiing of their ripening tomatoes?

For my part, I plan to increase the amount of limestone that I add to the planting hole for my tomato transplants and see if it reduces BER. For cracking, I plan to increase the mulch, avoid drowning the plants with water, and maybe back off on the fertilizer a bit.

It seems back when I first started gardening and had weak and sick looking tomato plants, that the few tomatoes I did get were actually quite free of both these problems. Now that my plants turn into 4-5 foot tall healthy, bushy monsters, I have these problems a lot more.

Any other ideas out there?

Thanks for letting me vent!!


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uncle_t(Z6 Ontario CAN)

Have you tried watering your toms with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)? I got rid of our BER with epsom salts five years ago and haven't seen it since. The salts help the plant to uptake calcium better. Lack of calcium in the soil or lack of uptake due to magnesium deficiency (drought or heavy rains really worsens it) can create BER (To wit: blah, blah, blah, calcium. Blah, blah uptake magnesium :-D ). You could also apply some calcium nitrate to the soil at the beginning of the season and then use a pinch of Epsom salts each time you water. Worked for me. Good luck.

This post was edited by uncle_t on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 20:11

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 5:56PM
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fcc0(Central PA)

Thank you Uncle T! Will do. I located my carton of Epsom Salts. I think I bought it years ago for just this purpose, in a previous home. Dang memory. Maybe it will help with cracking, too - we will see.

I would still like to hear from readers who rarely or never see any cracking and find out about their cultural practice. Do you think that it is just something you put up with if you want the tomatoes to ripen fully on the vine?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 12:33PM
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The Epsom salts contains 12.9% sulfate and 9.8% magnesium. Sometimes the soil needs an additional amount of Mg++ and sulfate. Mg is an integral part of a chlorophyll molecule, so it makes it a very crucial micro-element.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:21AM
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I have to agree with the Epsom salts suggestions. An old farmer (35 yrs ago!) told me to ring the plant with epsom salts just as the plants were blooming. It seems to work for me but I do feel some varieties are more susceptible to cracking.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 7:19PM
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