The Q&A Archives: Catfacing on Tomatoes

Question: I am growing tomatoes by watering just as soon as I notice any sign of wilt. Two are in the ground, and three are in containers. The ones in the ground, 'Beefsteak' and 'Early Girl', both have deformed fruit such as is described as catface in one of the books. My questions are: What causes this condition?; Will it continue throughout the life of the plant?; and How can I prevent it next year? The plants in the ground get about 4 hrs of sun a day, and the containers get about 8 hrs here in Southern Calif near Pasadena.

Answer: Catfacing results from various stresses at the period between flowering and fruit development. The symptoms happen when the flower doesn't quite come cleanly from the expanding ovary. Temperatures below 55 or above 85, drought, inconsistent watering, high winds, and heavy-duty fertilizing can all cause cat-facing. Next year, pay attention to the above stresses, give all your plants full sun (8 hours +), and try some resistant varieties (Burpee's VF or Floramerican, for instance).

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