How to Identify and Prevent Catfacing of Tomatoes

  • jack Officer
  • May 29, 2023

You nurture your tomato vegetation till you could have stunning fruit maturing on the vine.

Upon nearer inspection, you uncover that one thing has gone terribly unsuitable.

Your fruits have a hideous deformity! What’s going on?

Worry not – they aren’t underneath siege from a pathogen that might smash your complete crop.

In truth, if the fruit haven’t cut up open, they’re completely suitable for eating. Nevertheless, you definitely can’t promote them or present them off.

A close up of a deformed tomato growing on the vine, pictured on a soft focus background. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

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We are going to introduce you to the world of tomato disfigurement often known as catfacing – a dysfunction that isn’t contagious, however could cause vital losses of yield.

Right here’s what I’ll cowl:

What Is Catfacing of Tomatoes?

How did this dysfunction get its identify? The reply is straightforward: as a result of the deformity appears related, not less than at instances, to a small cat’s face.

A close up of a red fruit with a deformity that has caused scarring on the bottom side, pictured on a soft focus background.
Picture by Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Heart, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,, through CC BY-SA.

A physiological dysfunction relatively than a illness, catfacing shouldn’t be brought on by an insect or pathogen – it’s brought on by cultural issues within the backyard.

The result’s fruit that’s deformed on the blossom finish, or typically on the facet.

A close up of an unripe, green fruit suffering from a condition that causes deformity, pictured on a soft focus background.
Picture by Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Heart, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,, through CC BY-SA.

Usually, you will notice a big indentation that appears like a scar. It will possibly crack open and expose the locules – the cavities that include the seeds.

The fruit may also develop into distorted and misshapen.

Nevertheless, even when the blossom scar is simply enlarged and the fruit has not cut up open, the tomato continues to be thought of to have catface.

What Causes This Deformity?

The precise trigger is unknown, however many cultural situations have been related to catfacing.

Irregular Temperatures

Cool climate has been related to the event of this dysfunction. Temperatures that dip beneath 60°F three weeks earlier than the plant blooms might intrude with regular improvement of the flower bud, which may manifest in catfacing.

Abnormally sizzling climate may also induce this situation.

Even worse is when there are broad fluctuations between temperatures at evening and in the course of the day.

This will trigger the fruit to alternate between gradual development and fast development – a state of affairs that’s ripe for the event of catfacing.

Disturbance to the Flowers

Bodily injury to the flowers, earlier than or after pollination could cause catfacing.

A standard supply of damage to the flowers is an assault by little bugs referred to as thrips. Leaf curl is a significant symptom of thrip infestation.

You undoubtedly wish to deal with your vegetation if they’ve an infestation of thrips.

These bugs can transmit tomato noticed wilt virus, which might destroy your entire tomato, pepper, and different nightshade crops.

A close up of the packaging of Bonide insecticidal soap to treat plants infested with pests.

Bonide Insecticidal Cleaning soap

You possibly can banish thrips by spraying your vegetation with an natural soap-based spray, in keeping with bundle directions, similar to Bonide Insecticidal Cleaning soap accessible from Arbico Organics.

Pruning and Excessive Nitrogen Ranges

In line with consultants at UMass Extension, extreme pruning or excessive concentrations of nitrogen within the soil may additionally trigger catfacing.

Dr Gerald Brust from the College of Maryland Extension means that the discount of auxins – plant hormones that promote cell elongation – because of pruning might enhance susceptibility to this dysfunction.

Herbicide Publicity

In industrial operations, tomatoes which were uncovered to the herbicide 2,4-D can develop this dysfunction. The chemical mimics plant hormones, so it could possibly disrupt the conventional improvement of the fruit.

Thankfully for the house gardener, edible crop publicity to chemical herbicides is unlikely.

Tomatoes Which are Affected

Very massive tomatoes, flat-bottomed cultivars specifically, seem like extra vulnerable to develop this situation than smaller varieties.

Heirloom varieties are often susceptible, and you could have observed the telltale indicators of this physiological dysfunction on fruit on the farmers market. Thankfully, so long as injury shouldn’t be extreme, it doesn’t render the fruit inedible.

Tips on how to Stop Catfacing

Whilst you might not be capable of stop the event of catface fully, you possibly can take steps to attenuate its chance.

Develop Resistant or Tolerant Varieties

Rising tolerant varieties is very really helpful as the easiest way to keep away from catfacing.

There are a number of varieties which are much less prone to develop this dysfunction, together with ‘Countil,’ ‘Duke,’ ‘Floradade,’ ‘Monte Carlo,’ and ‘Walter.’


Yow will discover seeds for ‘Floradade’ in a wide range of packet sizes at Eden Brothers.

Keep away from Low Temperatures

If you happen to develop your vegetation in a greenhouse for any a part of their life cycle, keep away from low or fluctuating temperatures.

And don’t plant your transplants within the floor too early, so they are going to be much less prone to be uncovered to chilly climate.

If a chilly snap is within the forecast, defend your vegetation with loosely wrapped burlap or just a few layers of towels.

Do Not Prune or Fertilize Excessively

Whereas it may be tempting to fertilize your younger vegetation with nitrogen, achieve this carefully. Conduct a soil take a look at to test the nutrient ranges of your soil and discover out if there’s a deficiency.

Additionally, keep away from pruning aggressively, notably throughout bloom time.

Keep Sufficient Ranges of Moisture

Tomato vegetation require common, deep watering.

Mulching effectively is one approach to maintain extra moisture within the soil and scale back the probabilities that your fruit will develop catface.

One other is to water completely with a soaker hose on the soil degree.

Cracking Can Enhance Vulnerability to Pathogens

Some cut up tomatoes are suitable for eating, however splitting could cause a possible pathway for fungi and micro organism to enter the fruit.

A close up of a ripe red fruit suffering from a deformity to the fruit known as catface, pictured on a dark background.
Picture by Mary Ann Hansen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State College,, through CC BY-SA.

Black mould rot is a specific downside. This may be brought on by a number of several types of fungi, notably Alternaria alternata.

Harvesting as quickly as they’re ripe can decrease the possibilities of contracting this an infection.

Specialists advise in opposition to consuming any fruit with catfacing that has uncovered tissue. Extra superficial injury to the pores and skin could be eliminated earlier than having fun with the fruit.

Fungi can produce very harmful toxins, and you don’t want to take any possibilities by consuming fruit that might include them.

Many Elements Trigger Catface, However There Is Hope

A who’s who of environmental elements could cause catface. These embrace low or fluctuating temperatures, extreme pruning and fertilization with nitrogen, flower injury from thrips, and herbicide drift.

Whereas many of those are out of your management, you possibly can take steps to attenuate the possibilities of this dysfunction occurring.

A close up of a ripe red tomato suffering from a condition known as catface that causes scarring and disfigurement.

Planting tolerant or resistant varieties is your foremost line of protection. In case your crop suffered this 12 months, strive a resistant cultivar subsequent season. Wait to plant your transplants till soil temperatures are above 55°F.

As soon as vegetation are within the floor, be sure you water frequently and completely, and mulch round vegetation to retain moisture.

Have you ever had an issue with catface in your crops? Tell us within the feedback beneath!

And to study extra about rising tomatoes in your backyard, try these guides subsequent:

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