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It doesn't matter what I do, my Cherry tomatoes always seem to have many of them crack when/as they ripen. I have tried everything - more sun, less sun, more water, less water, different varieties etc. It only seems to happen badly with Cherry tomatoes. I am not talking about the occasional crack that sometimes happens early on the fruit is green and then heals to forms a dry scar over time. This is the kind of splitting that happens suddenly, just when the fruits become ready to pick. Is this a common problem? Does anyone have a solution? What might I be doing wrong?

marked as duplicate by black thumb, kevinsky Aug 20 at 1:07

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    Usually a sign of too much water. There is too much (water) pressure in the plant and the weakest points (the fruits) will burst open. Did it rain a lot? Photos will also help to diagnose it even better. – b.nota Aug 15 at 13:54
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    @b.nota my cherry tomatoes are a hanging basket variety and the baskets are well-drained (possibly too well-drained). Splitting seems more to do with a sudden increase in watering rather than over-watering. Missing watering one day in the heatwave we had here recently meant those that were just starting to change colour would split a day or two later, so those particular tomatoes should have been picked a little early. – Chris H Aug 15 at 16:08
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    @ChrisH, I agree totally. A change of water house holding (too much water causes the burst), I wasn't only talking about watering. It can also be caused by other factors such as temperature changes or change of weather (drought, rain) and so on. – b.nota Aug 15 at 16:39
  • It's been raining a helluva lot here in NJ where I'm growing some in my garden, as a result as they ripen they split open. To combat this, I've just begun picking them a bit early while they're still reddish orange. They still taste really good but don't have that split. – J0hn Aug 15 at 18:25
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    Chris, your instincts are right. This cracking is more about stress and change than too much or too little water. Stability is key. Routine. Picking your tomatoes early allows others to ripen and even be set. I just allow the tomatoes to sit on a dark airy shelf a day or two and yummy. – stormy Aug 16 at 4:14

Small fruiting tomatoes tend to be a lot juicier (that is ratio of meaty pulp to juice) than medium or large fruiting. Tomato produces a skin of a certain size for the number of fruits it has, then as b.nota points out extra water arrives. The fruit is already turgid, the extra water has nowhere to go but to burst the balloon. It is particularly a problem with tomatoes grown outside, subject to the varying weather: overnight dew, shower after dry, downpours. A few drops more in a large meaty tomato is easily absorbed, but the already watery small fruit cannot handle it.

Think of the advantage that a greenhouse grower has. Full control over when and how much irrigation to apply. Tomato fruits come out perfect every time and he can sell every one.

There is also physical pressure to take into account, that is being bumped or leaned on. Commercial growers pack in small containers so that being leaned on by neighbours or crushed by a heavy overburden of other fruits does not happen.

Frequent and early picking (just showing some red blush) can help.

  • I wasn't considering the heavy dew in the morning. I.m sure that's it. Thanks, Colin, that explains a lot. There is nothing to do. Late August to September has a lot of dew. They don't have flavor picked before fully ripe. – user22542 Aug 15 at 16:25

There are two main causes of fruit split - the first is irregular watering. Once tomatoes have fruitlets, and especially as they start to get bigger and ripen, its critical to water sufficiently every day, without missing a day or two, or giving a bit less some days than others. If you don't, then the tomato, receiving a sudden influx of water, swells rapidly, and the skin can't keep up and splits. So, if you usually water twice a day, then always water twice a day, with the same amount, every day. Or once a day, whatever your regime is...In a hanging basket, its much more difficult to keep the watering ritual accurate because they dry out quicker - they should certainly be watered at least twice a day, and watered well each time - even if it's raining.

The second cause is, unfortunately, fluctuation in temperatures, which is much more difficult to avoid when growing tomatoes outdoors https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=393

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