The Q&A Archives: Causes for Uneven Tomato Ripening

Question: My large tomatoes turn red, but the flesh inside is white and hard; no other problems otherwise. The plants are green and healthy. The cherry tomatoes grown next to them are ripe and perfect. I've been growing toms on same plot for 4 years with rotation within that plot. Then in 1994 this red skin/white flesh condition first appeared. I skipped growing tomatoes in 1995 (grew corn, etc...). Then in 1996 I grew big tomatoes (different supplier, different variety) and cherry tomatoes again. Same result! Had a soil test done in June by Cornell in 1996 and everything was ok, except a little high on the Phosphorus. How can I grow red ripe big tomatoes again? Help! I'm lost here! Adrienne Tesoro Babylon, NY

Answer: A few things come to mind. Stink bugs and some white flies feeding on developing fruits can cause this uneven ripening to occur. Check for these pests early in the season once fruits have set and spray with pyrethrum to kill them. Potassium deficiency can lead to this problem as well. Though there's plenty of potassium in your soil, according to your soil test, perhaps uneven moisture in the soil has prevented the plants from absorbing enough of the nutrient. Mulch the plants well and keep them well watered to prevent moisture fluctuation. Check in your library for books with photos of stink bugs and white flies if you are unfamiliar with these.

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