Potassium Deficiency?

mike3July 18, 2010

I am having a problem with some of my tomatoes and was wondering if anybody could help me determine what it is. I did some research and the best things I could come up with is either too much water or a potassium deficiency. I don't think we have had too much water this year, but I don't know. Some of the tomatoes have this white cystal like stuff in it that almost looks like sugar. The ones that are like that generally get really soft. Does anybody know what that is? Does it sound like it could be a potassium deficiency? If so, if I add more potassium to the soil now, will it be in time to help the rest of my tomatoes for this year?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sounds like salts

are these in pots?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 1:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No, the plants are not in pots. My soil is very thick clay though that I have been trying to condition a little bit every year with compost and top soil. If it is salts, is there anything I can do to help them? When you eat the tomatoes, they taste kind of mushy if that helps.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 8:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bets(z6A S ID)

You say based on the symptoms you suspect "either too much water or a potassium deficiency", does that mean your leaves are yellowing? If they are yellowing and you add in the clay soil and mushy tomatoes, I would suspect poor drainage so that the roots are drowning. Have you dug down about 4" into the soil to see if it is wet, damp or dry? If it is wet, then you have a water problem (even if you have not been watering). I know a many of places are getting a lot more rain than they normally do, and if that is the case, the only thing you can do it find someway to increase the drainage in your garden. (Dig ditches to carry the water away if you can?)

You mention sugar like crystals, where are they? On the soil, on the tomatoes, stems or leaves? Where they are can make a difference.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 12:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I say "either too much water or a potassium deficiency" I guess I was basing it off symptoms I found for inside the tomato. The sugar like crystals are found when you slice open the tomato. I have not dug down 4" to see if it is wet. Overall, my actual tomato plants look pretty good. There are some leaves yellowing, but not a lot. I actually had this same thing happen to me last year around this time and the rest of my tomatoes had it from here on. But we had a really rainy year last year, so I though it must be from that. This year we have not had as much rain, but probably more than normal still.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 1:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bets(z6A S ID)

Hi Mike3,

It is normal for older lower leaves to yellow and die. They are shaded by the new upper growth, if that is what you are seeing, it's not a problem.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it is mostly the lower leaves that are turning yellow. But what is bothering me is the flesh inside the fruit. That is what has the whte sugar like stuff and tastes mushy. Thanks for everybody's inputs!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 6:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Below is a picture of a tomato that I cut today that had some of that white sugar looking stuff in it. This one is not as bad as some of them, but you can see it in the middle in this picture. The tomato plants themselves actually look pretty good, but the tomatoes have this in it. Whenever this stuff is present, the tomatoes are generally soft. Does anybody know what this could be and what I can do for it?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 10:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

Your tomatoes are stressed and lacking of nutrients. It could be partially due to a potassium deficiency along with high heat and poor drainage. You could add gypsum to help break up your hard clay soil and add a good organic fertilizer to help for now. Also add alot of worms to help get oxygen into the soil and breakup the clay.

See if you can find a farm supply to get your gypsum in a 50lb bag for around $13.00


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 12:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Ron for the info. I will see if I can get some gypsum to help. Do I just spread it around the base of the plants for now? How thick should I spread it? Do you think it will help the rest of my tomatoes for this year? Other than the way they look inside and the texture, the tomatoes are actually pretty big and the plants look great and are really productive this year. I hope I can get this turned around so we have some good tasting tomatoes to eat!

Thanks again for everybody's help!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bets(z6A S ID)

Hi again Mike,

I am not seeing the "crystals" with my old eyes, I see what looks like highlights to me and near where the two halves are joined, normal torn tomato flesh.

Tomatoes tend to get mushy when they are over ripe, when they have had too much water, if they have gotten cold, sometimes it is just the early ones that get mushy, and some tomato varieties just tend to be mealy or mushy. I grew an OSU parthenocarpic (makes fruit without being fertilized) variety that I can't recall the name of, and throughout the season they were mushy and mealy to me. Even though they were early, I didn't think they were early enough to compensate for the quality.

Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 2:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks again for the info Betsy. This one had just a small spot - some of them have thick instances of what you see in the picture. But it very well might be too much water from our clay soil not draining well during some of our rains. It does hold a lot of water at times. I have been trying to condition the soil to help this problem. The season did start out pretty wet. The varieties that I am growing are generally not this soft and do not have this stuff in it - so it has worried me. It has made the texture very disturbing when eating. They are getting kind of soft before they are getting all the way ripe too, so I have been letting them get the rest of the way red before cutting them. By that time, they are really soft. So maybe by that time, they are actually over ripe. That makes me feel better if it might have been from too much water. That means some of my later ones might not be as bad.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 3:44PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Cost per tomato?
I'm not going to even guess. I'm going to order 8...
How soon would you fertilize after grafting tomatoes?
I grafted on Saturday February 21st. The tomatoes are...
ferroplasm Zone 7b
I need a high yield, good tasting indeterminate tomato.
I have a short growing season, and will grow them in...
Container cages
I need some design tips for putting a remesh cage on...
What are you growing for 2015?
Hi all! I'm a fairly new gardener (this will be my...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™