Seeing your big, red, ready to pick tomato with a split in its soft skin often happens after a big rain – right when you are ready to pick it! All season you’ve watched your tomato plants grow and blossom, and have nurtured the plant and small green tomatoes into plump, red juicy ones. And then you notice a long crack running across the skin. Even the most seasoned gardeners have been devastated by a split tomato. Rest assured though, there is a simple solution.
Tomatoes crack or split when rapid changes in water availability cause them to expand faster than their skins can stretch. Getting high amounts of rain, followed by a long dry spell can be the culprit. High humidity, calcium deficiencies, and excess nitrogen in the soil can contribute to tomato splitting as well.
If the tomato splits well before it is ripened and ready to pick, this can cause an opening for disease to enter. These tomatoes with the long side splits should be harvested as soon as they are close to ready and can finish ripening on the kitchen counter.
By maintaining plant fertility during flowering and fruiting with regular applications of a balanced fertilizer containing calcium will help keep things constant and in balance to prevent severe splitting.
Tomato plants require a lot of water in order for them to properly ripen. Avoid large fluctuations in soil moisture by providing consistent irrigation, especially during times of drought. It is best to water deeply a few times a week rather than providing small amounts of water daily.
While some varieties are marketed as crack resistant, all tomatoes, including cherry and plum varieties, can develop cracks when conditions are right. Careful irrigation/watering practices can help you avoid problems no matter which tomato you grow.