What Makes Tomatoes Split?

Last year, the problem I had with my tomatoes was Blossom End Rot. Well, though I’ve had a little trouble with that this year, my main problem has been splitting tomatoes.

I’ve done some reading on this problem, hoping to prevent it next time around. Here is what I’ve found…

split tomato in hand

What causes tomatoes to crack, or split?

The tomatoes grew too quickly. Any of the following reasons could be the culprit:

  • They got too hot during the day, then cooled too quickly at night.
  • Too much rain or over watering. (When this happens, the tomato’s skin can’t stretch enough to absorb all of the extra water, and it cracks.)
  • Over fertilizing.

How do you prevent the problem?

  1. Don’t prune the leaves too much. When the tomatoes are exposed to the sun, they overheat. The shade from the leaves helps keep the tomatoes from getting too hot.
  2. Spraying the leaves to prevent foliar diseases helps maintain the shade of the leaves.
  3. If too many leaves are lost, a simple shade over the plants on really hot, sunny days will help protect the exposed tomatoes.
  4. Mulch around your plants to help regulate soil moisture.
  5. Add compost every so often, or buy a vegetable fertilizer and don’t use it more than directed.
  6. Water at regular intervals, only as much as is needed. If it has rained a lot, reduce your watering. Try to keep it consistent, and don’t let them dry out too much before watering again.
  7. Use drip irrigation or a soaker hose on a timer to water frequently.

After learning all of this I can completely understand why my tomatoes are cracking. I have not watered consistently. We’ve had very hot, sunny days, and dry spells before a heavy thunderstorm would roll in. Plus, the leaves on my plants have all dried up and fallen off. My poor tomatoes are completely exposed. So, yeah. My neglected fruits have been exposed to all of the above.

Fortunately, you can still eat split tomatoes. Just cut the bad part off and eat the rest. Oh well, live and learn! Next year will be better.

I’d love to know if you have any other tricks to keeping your ‘maters from splitting!

10 thoughts on “What Makes Tomatoes Split?”

  1. Hi Kendra

    Theres an old trick we use with outdoor tomatoes, if you sink a 9 inch plant pot next to each plant use that to water them. The hole allows a drip effect and is easy to top up when needed. The roots will take up the water evenly this way and prevent the plant “gorging” and then going dry. It is uneven watering thats causing it. We grow under glass now as we control it. Also picking just before ripe allows the younger fruit more water.
    Hope that makes sense?

  2. yes that is what i am talking about . this is my first year to put out cucumbers in my garden i usual only put out tomatoes. i had to quit work and stay home because of medical problems. so i thought i would put out a larger garden i put out some zucchini and peppers they bloomed but they do not produce any vegetable . so people said they thing i have to much in a small place. we live in a trailer court and only have a small area to be able to put out flowers or vegetable garden. i can make it a little bigger next year double the side. i have tomaotes and cucumbers and peppers and zucchini in a 5 foot to 10 foot area is this to much 4 tomato plants 2 zucchini plants 2 peppers 2 cucumber plants. the tomato and cucumbers have overtook the garden they are growingeverywhere i have them fence in but they want to go out of the fence and then i have to pull them back into the fence area.i even broke one of the cucumbers vine and they are still growing. are the tomatoes and cucumbers stopping the peppers and zucchinis from growning?

  3. i have a question about cucumbers i have some cucumbers that are real long and when you pick them the cucumber has something on the outside that sticks your fingers the leafs to the cucmber plant stick you to. do you now what kind of cucmbers this is? also would they be good for makeing pickles? thank you verna

  4. I feel your pain. We have splitting and a little blossom end rot. Additional lime seemed to stop the blossom end rot but to say it is hot here in NC is an understatement–followed occasionally by a deluge of rain!!! Currently there have been a lot of zucchini and tomato dishes!! I guess all we can do is talk about the weather! Blessings

  5. I have that problem too. I just have mine in flowerpots on the porch though so I know it is from the feast and famine of water. The ladies at my quilting class clued me in.

  6. No tricks other than attempting even watering, but you don’t always have control of the clouds in the sky. Sure would be nice though.

    Oh, there are some varieties that are less prone to cracking/splitting, but it won’t necessarily make a huge difference. Just think happy thoughts about home-canned tomato sauce. 😉

  7. We’ve never been successful at stopping the splitting. What we do is as soon as the tomatoes start turning we go ahead and pick them and sit them in our windowsill to ripen. So far this is working great for us!

  8. I have cracked tomatoes, too. I know mine are from inconsistent watering, even though they’re mulched. I was telling my husband yesterday that the best tomatoes I ever had were at our first tiny house where we didn’t even have a garden. We grew them next to the house. I didn’t know a thing about gardening and I soaked them with water every single day. I think I’ve read too much and now think too much about how much to water them!


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