What causes tomatoes to become mealy or soft?
Mealiness, or tomatoes with softened flesh, has several possible causes.
The possible causes are:
- high Nitrogen (N)
- low Potassium (K)
- low Calcium (Ca)
- too much water
- too hot
- certain varieties
By process of elimination of unlikely causes, you can narrow it down. Tissue testing can determine if Ca or K are low or if N is too high.
The most likely causes are nitrogen being too high and potassium being too low. Nitrogen should be in the range of 4 to 5.5% in the leaf tissue. High nitrogen will also cause missed flower clusters (flower abortion), vegetative shoots at the ends of flower clusters, and a curling under or "balling up" of the tops of plants.
Low potassium during the fruit development phase is problematic. K should be 4 to 7% in the leaf tissue.
Also, overly warm conditions can cause softness, but of course, that is only a likely problem during the warm months of the year.
One other thing is to not store tomatoes in the refrigerator. Tomatoes are susceptible to chilling injury that will occur below 50 or 55 degrees F.
Refrigeration also destroys the flavor!
Tomatoes are a popular crop for home gardeners, but they can be tricky to grow. Insects, disorders, and diseases can all cause problems with tomatoes.
Common Diseases of TomatoesCRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. -- Conditions have been ideal this summer for a disease outbreak that makes tomatoes wilt and look like they are just too dry.
Southern blight is a fungal disease of tomatoes commonly characterized by white, thread-like growth and brown or tan, round structures known as sclerotia at the base of the stem.
Greenhouse tomato growers and other interested individuals are invited to attend the 28th annual Mississippi Greenhouse Tomato Short Course March 6-7.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – While nothing may beat the fresh taste of a home-grown tomato, a lot of things can go wrong in the garden to prevent the fruit from ever making it to the table.
Garden experts say tomato plants should be watered well, fertilized correctly, grown in direct sunlight and spaced properly so their leaves stay as dry as possible.
David Nagel, vegetable and home garden specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, listed three common problems that can plague tomato plants.
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
If you would like to give your garden a festive fall atmosphere, then find a prominent place to put in ornamental peppers. Their blooms are not noteworthy, but varieties like Sweet Pickle and Garda Tricolore have fruit that will show off like Christmas lights.
Ornamental peppers are one of the plants that leap off the garden center shelves this time of the year. If you love them in the fall, try growing them all season.