The Q&A Archives: white patches on tomatoes

Question: Upon viewing the vast array of tomatoes in the garden today I was surprised to see large white patches on the surfaces of the tomatoes. What is causing this Is it some kind of a deficiency? What will help remedy this situation?

Answer: Potassium deficiency is most likely your problem, says Hal Rutledge, horticulturist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. This symptom commonly occurs in late season tomatoes and is mostly cosmetic, affecting neither the taste nor the canned storage life of your tomatoes, he says. Either there's not enough available potassium in the soil or water stress has prevented the tomatoes from taking up the element. The first step toward a solution is a soil test to check the available potassium level, explains Rutledge. If the potassium is available, be sure the tomatoes are well watered throughout the growing season. Mulch them with straw 4-6" deep to retain moisture. If potassium levels are low, add a fertilizer such as 13-13-13, soybeanmeal or granite dust.

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