Why are my tomatoes rotting before ready to pick?

kimcocoAugust 29, 2007

First year planting them. Planted June 1st after risk of frost, but planted them way too close together - first timers mistake. Vines grew to about 4 1/2 feet tall. I've watered them at the base only keeping soil moist in dry weather, and fertilized 1x weekly (once tomatoes started to bud). They get full sun. We've had a lot of rain in the past weeks, and very hot humid weather.

They are starting to rot on the vine - before they are even fully ripened and ready to pick. Vines are unaffected, no holes or apparent insect infestation. I had to cut the vines back recently because I could hardly get to the tomatoes - they were that dense.

Why are my tomatoes rotting? Is this a disease, not enough air circulation, or something else?

I didn't plant any hybrids, and none are cherry/roma tomatoes. Cultivars are tomato boy(?), Brandywine, and Beefsteak.

Please help!

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better Boy, not tomato boy

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 2:15PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Hi kimcoco - I linked your other post on this here as well so all the info can be found in one place. Hope you don't mind.

Now that we know the varieties in question, we need some details about the rot (or a picture if possible).

Where on the fruit is the rot located? What color is it? Are the plants healthy looking otherwise?

The most common form of "rot" is called blossom end rot or BER. It is late in the season for it now but that may be the problem since you are using so much fertilizer on the plants. Over fertilization is one of the major causes of it and you are definitely over-fertilizing - a common mistake for new gardeners. ;) Weather can also contribute and your likely has.

Besides BER, diseases can cause fruit to rot and over-crowded planting plus rainy weather can cause many disease to sprout up.

But without more details we'd just be guessing. So begin by reading the FAQ here on Blossom-end rot and check out the photos below to see if they match. If not, then try to come back to this thread and post some more details about how it looks, ok?



Here is a link that might be useful: BER

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 4:12PM
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I've attached a link to the pics of my rotting tomatoes. I've read about blossom end rot, and I don't think that's it. I could be wrong.

My plants are overcrowded. In viewing the pics, you will see the bunch of 5 plants no more than 12 inches apart from eachother at best. My mistake.

Any idea about the rot?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 1:38AM
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With regard to your "rotting" fruit ... try picking the tomatoes before they become over ripe on the vine. Several tomatoes shown in your pictures simply got ripe, then past ripe, split and began to decompose. It also appears that because of some foliar disease, you may have a plant or two that has left your tomatoes exposed to excessive sunlight that is accelerating the process.

That one breaking ripe tomato with the nasty hole in it appears to have been attacked by a worm ... throw those kind away ... and again, pick your other tomatoes before they go to mush and rot.

If for some reason you like your tomatoes way over ripe and soft ... still pick them earlier when they show a fair amount of color but before the skins split exposing the flesh to agents of decomposition. Wash the picked tomatoes off quickly with chlorinated tap water to remove any yeast, bacteria or fungus that might be growing on the skin, dab them dry with a paper towel, and let them ripen to your liking on your kitchen counter.

As to the foliar diseases apparent on your plants ... that's an issue I'll leave to other members to address if they wish.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 11:05AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Hoosier covered several of the problems including the fruit left on the vine too long.

I also see some anthracnose and sour rot. Also some possible Alternaria Canker but no close up to be sure. Research these on the web to learn all about controls and preventing them next year. Also contact your local county extension for info on which diseases are common in your area and treatment tips.

Bottom line - you have at least a couple if not more, fungal infections going in the patch. The only solution at this late date is to try to slow it down with fungicide sprays like Daconil - multiple applications. It won't cure the problems but will slow it down.

I know on another thread you posted you were opposed to anti-fungal sprays but they are your only real option now I fear and not nearly as hazardous as you think. Otherwise, about all you can do is pick your fruit just as soon as it shows the slightest color and ripen it inside, thin out the patch with some pruning of all the diseased material to improve air circulation, eliminate any sprinkler watering, and hope. Just my 2 cents.

Next year, a much bigger patch or a lot less plants ;), much soil improvement, and lots and lots of mulch.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 7:12PM
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Thanks Dave & Hoosier for the valuable feedback. I appreciate every word!

I will try better next year. Beginners mistakes (*sigh*).

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 9:31PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

We have all been there Kim. Keep good notes for this year and if the weather cooperates, next year will be better.

But don't hold your breath on the weather part. ;)


    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 10:22PM
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