The Q&A Archives: Deformed and Small Tomatoes

Question: I am growing Big Boy tomatoes. About 60% of the fruits are deformed which make it look like one tomato is actually 3 or 4 small ones; and my cherry tomatoes are smaller than last year. I planted both in a different spot than last year and they are getting more sun and being watered enough. What could be the cause?

Answer: Oddly shaped tomatoes as you described are usually caused by pollination problems.

For example, night time temperatures below the optimum range of 59 to 68 degrees can contribute to both reduced pollen production and viability; some of the "Beefsteak" varieties are more prone to this problem than others. (Higher night time temperatures, especially combined with low humidity and low soil moisture can interfere with fruit set, too.)

Smaller cherry tomatoes could be caused by growing a different variety or by a difference in soil fertility, or by a reduced level of soil moisture. The fruits are made up of so much water that adequate and steadily even soil moisture is really important to produce the best tomatoes. You may want to check your soil by digging down about six inches to be sure -- a weekly deep soaking is better than a frequent light sprinkling, and a mulch will help, too.

You might also want to perform some basic soil tests to see if that may be the cause. Your County Extension agent can help you with the tests and with interpreting the results. The number in Howard County is 313-2712.

Good luck with your tomatoes!

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