Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Why Do My Homegrown Tomatoes Have Lines or Slits?

...
Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Tomatoes are the most widely planted garden vegetable in America, from lavish spreads of backyard vines to single pots containing one plant. With the plants being so common, and with so many inexperienced gardeners trying their novice hands, it is no wonder that tomato-related questions are the bread and butter of many extension services. You might be surprised to discover what causes tomatoes to split, to have lines or to be misshapen.

Tomato Woes

As a member of the widely cultivated nightshade family, tomatoes are prone to a wide variety of pests and problems. They can be adversely affected by a range of fungi, molds and insects, most of which can spread from related plants such as bell peppers and tobacco. Tomatoes are also susceptible to weather conditions, failing to flourish if the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry. Even when everything else goes well, voracious birds can damage ripe tomatoes.

  • Tomatoes are the most widely planted garden vegetable in America, from lavish spreads of backyard vines to single pots containing one plant.
  • They can be adversely affected by a range of fungi, molds and insects, most of which can spread from related plants such as bell peppers and tobacco.

Slits, Splits and Cracks

One common flaw you can find in many garden tomatoes is the development of various slits, splits or cracks. One variation of this blemish causes tomatoes to grow in lumpy, irregular shapes with deep creases in them. This is referred to as "cat-facing." A second, unrelated problem causes the tomatoes to grow deep cracks in their skin. These can take two different forms, one being semicircular cracks forming in a ring around the tomato's upper edges, the other being in the form of splits starting at the stem and radiating outward.

Cat-Facing

Cat-facing is immediately recognizable. It is caused by unseasonably cold weather while the tomatoes are blossoming and pollinating. As the tomato matures, some portions of the fruit will grow lavishly and other portions poorly if at all. The result is a misshapen tomato, with overgrown bulbous regions divided by deep creases. Some cultivars are more susceptible to this than others, most especially the large beefsteak types. If cat-facing is a problem in your area, browse the seed catalogs for resistant varieties.

  • One common flaw you can find in many garden tomatoes is the development of various slits, splits or cracks.
  • One variation of this blemish causes tomatoes to grow in lumpy, irregular shapes with deep creases in them.

Cracking and Splitting

Both the circular cracking pattern and the pattern of radiating splitting have the same cause, which is inconsistent water supply. When tomatoes are maturing they are especially susceptible to this problem. It occurs when the soil is allowed to dry out and then rain or a heavy watering suddenly provides an excess of water. The tomatoes take up too much water for their skins to contain, and cracking is the result. You can avoid the problem by watering the tomatoes during dry weather. There are also crack-resistant varieties, which have thicker skins.

Related Articles

Most Nutritious Tomato Varieties
Most Nutritious Tomato Varieties
Most Disease-Resistant Tomato Plants
Most Disease-Resistant Tomato Plants
How to Apply Lime to Tomato Plants
How to Apply Lime to Tomato Plants
Heat Tolerant Tomato Varieties
Heat Tolerant Tomato Varieties
Vegetables That Grow Above Ground
Vegetables That Grow Above Ground
How to Grow a Tomato in Texas
How to Grow a Tomato in Texas
Roma Tomato Varieties
Roma Tomato Varieties
Scientific Names of Garden Vegetables
Scientific Names of Garden Vegetables
How to Store Fresh Tomatoes From Your Garden
How to Store Fresh Tomatoes From Your Garden
How to Grow Tomatoes in the House
How to Grow Tomatoes in the House
Foods That Come From Vines
Foods That Come From Vines
How Much Will One Acre of Tomato Plants Yield?
How Much Will One Acre of Tomato Plants Yield?
Recommended Tomato Plants for North Texas
Recommended Tomato Plants for North Texas
Fruits That Look Like a Tomato
Fruits That Look Like a Tomato
The Best Tomato Plants for North Carolina
The Best Tomato Plants for North Carolina
Will Tomatoes Grow on a Screened Porch?
Will Tomatoes Grow on a Screened Porch?
Garden Guides
×