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Connecticut Garden Journal: Tomato problems? Could be genetics.

Bacterial spot Tomatoes on vine.
Maryana Serdynska
Getty Images
It's prime time for tomatoes right now. You might be able to manage damaged fruit, depending on the cause.

The tomato crop is ripening and lots of gardeners are enjoying cherry tomatoes, sauce tomatoes and big, fat juicy slicers. But for some, all is not tomato sandwiches and smiles. Various conditions and insects can cause tomato fruit damage. I've talked about tomato hornworms and blight before and you can check out those topics on my website. Today, I want to talk about other problems.

Tomato skins with cracking, splitting or long scars, are usually caused by genetics or weather. Heirlooms are more susceptible than many hybrids. Also, wet or dry weather will stress the skins and cause splitting. Try growing different varieties and try mulching. The same is true for rotting at the end of some fruits. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the skin due to fluctuating soil moisture conditions. Elongated sauce tomatoes are most susceptible. Keep the soil mulched to prevent this problem.

Green tops or shoulders on ripening tomatoes is usually a genetic trait often found in heirlooms or is caused by too much sun and heat. If you really love that heirloom variety, just cut off the green top and eat it. Otherwise, try different varieties or shade your plants in the afternoon to keep them cool.

If your tomatoes have cloudy spots on the skin and those areas are hard, it could be damage from stink bugs. These bugs pierce the skin to feed, causing this reaction. Control stink bugs by hand picking them or spraying pyrethrum spray in the evening after the bees have all gone home.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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