Splitting tomatoes:

squonk(z 5/6 Indiana)August 22, 2008

Hey gang. My tomato plants are doing GREAT. I have a few that are the size of softballs. Tomatoes have recently, finally, started to ripen. The problem is, the tomatoes that are ripening are starting to split open. :( I wanted to leave the tomatoes on the plants till they are fully ripe, but, I started to pick them because I was afraid the splits would get larger and attract bugs. I don't understand why they are splitting, I water consistently every other day for past 3 weeks because we haven't hand any rain and the ground is like concrete. When we were at least getting SOME rain I could get by with watering once a week or less. Am I watering too much? The reason I water every other day is because I don't water the lawn so it's dry as a bone and when I water the plants, the surrounding area seems to soak up the water like a wick, and, when I check below the thick mulch, it is dried up after 2 days, but, maybe it is not so dry a foot down? Should I go back to watering once a week no matter what? Also, is it a good idea to pick the tomatoes before the splits get worse like I did? They are fairly ripe, just not that full deep red ripeness. And last, do I need to give the splits some attention, or, just set them on the counter and let them finish ripening and not worry about it? Sorry for the multiple questions lol and thanks in advance for any help. :)

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jbann23(6 RI)

The only time I've had splitting tomatoes was after a heavy rain. I think the tomatoes take up too much water for the skin to grow with it. Make sense?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 8:03PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

There is no organic connection to the plant after color breaks from green [phloem vessels close off], so flavor is not affected if you pick "pink and hard". The longer the ripening process proceeds on the plant, which still has the water vascular system attached to the fruit, the softer the cell wall connections get and the easier it is for splitting to occur under normal or even draught sap pressure (lower pressure). Dilute rainwater in the soil plus concentrated sap on the inside of the plant causes massive uptake of water = high sap pressure in the plant = split fruit.

There is a great deal of variability in flavor intensity from fruits on the same plant based on when the fruit grew (earliest cool weather fruits tend to be blander), and where on the plant the fruit was locate (cool soil level vs warmer higher vs hot outside of leaves vs cooler shaded internal fruits). A couple of days between just ripe and full ripe can also affect the flavor (for good or bad). I have picked everything this season so far hard-pink and have gotten the best tomato I've ever tasted and bland one from the same plant tasted on the same day.

I think alot of our prejudices towards full vine ripening come from flavorless hybrid green picked gassed storebought tomatoes we try to make better by leaving on the counter until they are soft enough not to chip a tooth.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 10:54AM
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squonk(z 5/6 Indiana)

Yes, I went out this morning and picked all the orange tomatoes. :) Did a Google search and I'd say 99.99% of the 'experts' say to pick when orange and not wait till they are red (fully ripen). At least the cracked maters I have are still edible. Doesn't bug me too much, I just don't want to give 'cracked' tomatoes to friends and family. BTW, I ate the first tomato of the year a little bit ago and OMG, the flavor was amazing. SO much better than store bought. This is my first adventure in tomato growing and I am surprised how well they are doing. Only problem I had was a brief battle with Hornworms. Oh those little bastards! I got them all though. My plants have already grown about 6 inches above the 8 foot steaks I used. I can't support them vertically anymore, so I am going to run string from steak to steak and let them sprawl horizontally. Even my neighbors have been coming over taking notes. They are as amazed as I am. lol :)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 11:41AM
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