Common Problems When Growing Tomatoes

Common Problems When Growing Tomatoes

Love growing tomatoes? Almost every gardener leaves some space for tomatoes. Once you get to taste the freshness of homegrown tomatoes, you’ll know why you must plant some.

Homegrown tomatoes are sweet, luscious, and sharp as opposed to most watery tomatoes in supermarkets.

While tomato growing is fun, there are a few problems that farmers face. Problems vary from the tomato plant not setting a fruit to multiple tomato diseases.

Keep reading below as I discuss common problems when growing tomatoes.

Blossom End Rot

Blossom End Rot (BER) is a problem that makes the tomato bottom show ugly black patches. This is by far the most common problem facing tomatoes in gardens, greenhouses, home hardens, and especially tomatoes growing in containers.

The problem appears as dry, dark brown/black, and leathery near or at the fruit bottom. On a few occasions, BER can occur on the inside and the fruit side. When it occurs inside, the BER remains hidden until the fruit is sliced open.

Such tomatoes tend to ripen first than others with the spot sunken.

The major cause of BER is the lack of enough calcium in the soil. It can also be due to low pH levels. Tomatoes need at least 6.5 pH to grow.

Tomato Leaves Turning Yellow

Tomato yellow leaves are another common problem that affects tomatoes. There are various causes of yellow leaves: overwatering, change in environment, nutrient deficiency and various diseases cause the tomato leaves to turn yellow. Most diseases affecting tomatoes occur along with other symptoms like wilting and leafy spots.

If you need more information about this problem, I would suggest you follow Briana Yablonski from, she did a great job of addressing why are tomato leaves turning yellow in this article.

Fruit Cracking

Tomato cracking is another common problem when they don’t get the best conditions. Most of these cracks start from the stem and are usually called radial. They radiate from the stem and end up affecting the fruit. Other types of cracks form rings around the stem and fruits.

The major cause of tomato cracking is inconsistent water supply to the plant. When you don’t water your tomatoes frequently, they will develop cracks.

But that’s not always the case, tomatoes can also crack due to excessive moisture that leads to rapid growth. This usually occurs after a prolonged period of high temperatures.

Big temperature differences between daytime and nighttime can also cause cracking.

While you cannot prevent all types of cracks, you can lessen the effects. This is done through mulching and maintaining a constant water supply. Make sure you also use an adequate fertilizer program. 

Misshapen Fruit

You can also have tomato fruits come in poor shapes. This is a common problem among garden farms. Tomatoes develop poor shapes when temperatures are too low. Low temperatures lead to a ridged fruit shape.

The ideal temperature for tomatoes is above 60 degrees F. Make sure you plant tomatoes when temperatures are high.

However, some varieties of tomatoes are prone to produce misshapen fruits. A good example is the older heirloom variety and the larger beefsteak types.


This is another common problem that affects the shape of the fruit. The fruit usually becomes malformed in an irregular shape. It creates brown scars at the blossom end. The scars might sometimes run on the fruit sides.

You’ll see fruit with deep crevices. It’s different from BER where you see sunken parts with dark brown bottoms. When it’s severe, catfacing makes the fruit bottom appear turned inside out.

The problem is common in cooler temperatures, affecting the earliest harvested fruits. However, fruits with such issues are still edible. You just need to cut out the affected part.

This is a problem caused by cool temperatures and early pollination. You can try resistant varieties and plant them later in the season.

Leaf Rolling

Ever seen your tomato plant with leaves rolling inward? If yes, then this is a common problem called leaf rolling. The condition can be mild or severe. It usually occurs once plants form a heavy fruit load.

The problem usually starts with older leaves but can sometimes affect the entire plant. It’s not a serious condition and does not affect fruit production.

When it occurs, try to avoid frequent pruning. You can also try planting tomatoes in well-drained soils.

Uneven Ripening

Lastly, we look at uneven ripening which is common in tomatoes. This happens due to high nitrogen levels, high temperatures, low potassium, infections, etc.

You can reduce this by maintaining proper balance when feeding your tomatoes.

Sharing Experience - How do farmers grow tons of tomatoes?

Sharing Experience – How Do Farmers Grow Tons of Tomatoes?

Growing tomatoes is one of the best gardening experiences out there. If done in the right way, tomato growing can be quite profitable. Growing tons of tomatoes is quite exciting. But there are problems when growing tomatoes and you need to get it right.

The experience can be worse when diseases kick in, the weather gets worse or harvests are not bountiful. But overall, the experience is a great one. Tomatoes are a top crop for every gardener.

But ever wondered how farmers grow tons of tomatoes successfully? Join me as I share experiences from farmers on growing tons of tomatoes.

Choosing a tomato variety

You first need to choose a tomato variety. Farmers know varieties that grow faster and have big demands at the farmers’ market.

There are two common tomato varieties to grow, determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes are bush varieties that grow 2-3 feet tall. They are ideal when you want numerous ripe tomatoes at once.

Determinate tomatoes produce fewer leaves and produce tomatoes for a shorter period. They are perfect for growing in tomato grow bags, containers, and gardens with small spaces. Determinate tomatoes are ideal for making paste. They are also ideal for canning since they produce at the same time.

We also have indeterminate which experience more leaf growth. They are also called vining tomatoes and produce late-season up to early frost production. Most indeterminate tomatoes are cherry tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes.

Perfect period to plant

Next, you need to pick the right time to plant. Tomatoes are long-season plants that will take 60-100 days. They love heat  and most won’t tolerate frost. This means choosing a suitable period to plant so that you can harvest before frost. If the weather is too hot or cold for growing tomatoes outdoors, you can consider growing them indoors with the help of grow lights specifically designed for tomatoes.

Seedlings should be planted six weeks before the first spring-frost date. Tomatoes have a long-growing season. Timing should be done to ensure you plant your seedlings by the time the weather gets warm.

Apart from growing seeds, you can choose your seedlings from a nursery.

Soil Requirements – Fertilizing

Next, you need to understand the soil requirements for tomatoes. First is the fertilizer needed, Stephanie – master gardener and regular contributor to Backyard Gardeners Network said that tomatoes use different fertilizers for different growing stages. So start with a soil test to determine what fertilizer to add.

In the 2 to 3 months of growing, farmers can apply fertilizer 10 times. Before planting, farmers need to add well-rotted manure to the rows. Before planting, they also need pre-planting fertilizer. This is fertilizer rich in nitrogen.

As the tomatoes grow, farmers need to apply fertigation. This is the most common tomato fertilizer. It is a water-soluble fertilizer that is applied to the drip-irrigation system. The application provides tomato plants with gradual nutrients giving them time to grow.

After every three days, fertilizer with Calcium is added until you see the third inflorescence set. Afterwards, farmers can change the Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium ratio to 1-1-2. The ratio is again changed to 1-1-3 when fruits are mature.

Higher potassium is needed towards maturity as tomatoes need it to produce bigger and well-shaped fruits.

Most successful tomato farmers recommended creating a fertilization calendar. While every field is different and has different needs, you should know the tomato fertilizer needs.

During the growing season, tomatoes grown outdoors require up to 700mm of water. It’s crucial to water plants during the flowering season, when the fruits are setting and during the fruit filling period

Watering should be done early in the morning and late in the evening. However, when watering, make sure you avoid water touching the foliage. Excess moisture on the foliage can lead to disease outbreaks.

Pruning, Staking and Pinching

As the tomatoes grow, you need to prune and pinch the suckers. This is a great way to allow sunlight to access all parts of the plant and air to circulate properly.

Additionally, you need to tie the stems to stakes. You also need to trim lower leaves from as low as 12 inches.

Harvesting and storage

Most tomatoes are ready for harvesting from 7-10 weeks after transplanting them. If the tomatoes are intended for canning, they are harvested mechanically at once. This usually happens in late summer when they are fully ripe.

But tomatoes for local selling at a farmers market can be harvested by hand. Harvesting can be done in two stages towards the ripening season. Harvesting can be done 2-3 times a week.

Overall, you need to harvest tomatoes when they are red and firm. Most can have some yellow on the stem.

What happens when temperatures drop and the tomatoes are not fully ripe?

Pull the entire tomato plant from the soil. Then remove all foliage and dirt leaving the tomato fruits attached. Hang the plant upside in a  garage for a few days for the tomatoes to ripen.

Mature pale and green tomatoes can also be stored in boxes to ripen. You need to maintain cool temperatures. Never put the tomatoes on direct sun to ripe.