The Q&A Archives: Tomato Fruit has White Ring and Hard Texture

Question: The inside of my beautiful red tomatoes has a white ring around the perimeter and have a hard and mealy texture. I have recently noticed tiny white bugs on the underside of the plant leaves. Could they have caused the problem? What else could have done this? The plants are generally healthy looking. Is it too late to salvage my fruit for the year?

Answer: Good sleuthing! The sweet potato whitefly is sometimes connected to this problem, though I'm not sure the experts have figured out how they cause the problem. White tissue in the fruit also results from poor potassium uptake during growth, and high temperatures. If you have more fruit coming along, you can improve your chances of edible fruit by spraying the leaves with a neem-based product to control the whiteflies, and foliar feeding plants with kelp fertilizer. This fall, have your soil tested to see what nutrient levels are, and amend the soil as per the test recommendations. Your agricultural extension office (ph# 312/737-1178) can help you with soil testing. Next year, try to avoid the whiteflies by using neem-based repellents regularly, beginning early in the season, or by using fabric row covers (at least until the plants outgrow them!). Best of luck!

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