Try These Strategies to Prevent Tomatoes From Cracking on the Vine

— Written By and last updated by Diane Lynch
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Q: My tomatoes have splits on the surface. What is causing this?

A: If you have grown tomatoes in your home garden, you know that there are many problems one has to deal with while waiting on that nice red tomato. One common problem with tomatoes is cracking or splitting that occurs where the tomato is attached to the plant. The cracking and splitting is usually noticed as the tomato is ripening.

The cause for cracking on tomatoes is usually an environmental problem. Listed are some of the common reasons that cracking occurs on tomatoes:

Fluctuation in Watering:
When tomatoes do not receive water at regular intervals, cracking can be more common. Fluctuation in watering or rainfall where the tomato plants receive large amounts of water and then dry out increases the chances of cracking and splitting on tomatoes.

Fluctuation in Temperature:
Large fluctuations in temperature can also increase cracking and splitting. Large differences between day and night temperatures cause expansion and contraction of the fruit’s skin, thus causing cracking. Early removal of leaves on tomato plants cause once shaded fruit to suddenly be exposed to the sun and increase the fruit’s temperature. This leaf removal which exposes tomatoes suddenly to the sun will increase cracking.

Fast Growth:
Rapid growth of tomato plants while the fruit are forming can increase cracking and splitting. Some varieties naturally tend to have fast growth which will make them more prone to cracking. Applying excess nitrogen fertilizer while the tomatoes are producing fruit can encourage fast growth and cause the fruit to crack.

Unfortunately there is no treatment that will undo the cracking on tomatoes. There are a few things that you can do to prevent the problem in future growing seasons. Be sure to water on a regular schedule as much as possible. Although it is hard to prevent too much rain at one time (and who wants to complain about too much rain these days?), you can control how much you irrigate your tomatoes to prevent soil and plants from drying out. If you prune or remove leaves from tomato plants, avoid removing too many leaves at once or do not remove leaves that are shading developing tomatoes to prevent them from suddenly being exposed to the sun. While tomatoes do need fertilizer, avoid fertilizers heavy in nitrogen during fruit development. Too much nitrogen during this time will encourage fast growth.

Although cracking or splitting can not be completely eliminated no matter how much is done, paying close attention to these few things can make cracking less of a problem on tomatoes.

For additional lawn and garden information contact the Wayne County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. One can reach the Wayne County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic by phone at 919-731-1433, e-mail at, or stopping by Room 100 of the Wayne County Extension Office (208 West Chestnut Street, Goldsboro).

Learn More!
• Visit our website at Click on “Lawn & Garden” on left side of webpage.
• “Like” us on Facebook to receive timely garden tips, ask questions, and learn of upcoming gardening events.

Upcoming Wayne County Extension Gardening Programs:
• Wayne County Gardening Kids Summer Camp.

Do you have children who like to play outdoors in the garden? Wayne County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are offering a four-day camp to explore the fascinating world of gardening. Children will learn how to grow plants, why soil is important, cool insects and honeybees that pollinate your garden, and fresh veggies they can grow at home. Participants will grow and care for their own plants during the camp and take them home on the last day along with a certificate for completing the camp.

  • The camp will be held on Thursday July 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th from 9 a.m. to noon at Wayne Co Cooperative Extension Office
  •  Camp age range is 8 to 11 years old
  •  Registration cost is $50
  • The camp is held through the Wayne County 4-H Summer Camp program. Wayne County 4-H Summer Camp brochure can be found on our website at
  •  To register, stop by the Wayne County Cooperative Extension Office (208 W. Chestnut Street, Goldsboro). Office is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Jessica Strickland
Extension Agent
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Wayne County Center
P. O. Box 68
Goldsboro, NC 27533
Phone: 919-731-1520
Fax: 919-731-1511