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Tomato catfacing is a disorder that affects fruit. It’s a disappointing condition but not fatal.
Here’s what happens. You’re all set to pick your ripening tomatoes until you take a peek on the undersides of the fruit. There you find unusual dimpling, indents, or puckering and some dark scars, which can run vertically up and down the tomato or in concentric circles
“Ugly fruit,” you may call it. The good news is that your tomato is not the victim of disease or pests. Instead, the fruit is simply misshapen, maybe with a few unattractive marks thrown in.
Tomato catfacing is a physiological disorder in tomato fruit caused by adverse growing conditions. Those conditions trigger abnormal development in a tomato plant’s blossoms.
Normally, tomato blossoms gather around a cylindrical stamen during pollination. But sometimes, two or more blossoms fuse together.
The result is misshapen malformations on the bottom of the tomato. The tomato forms multiple lobes, or folds in on itself as it grows or develops holes. Brown or gray scars may run up and down or across the bottom of the fruit.
The gardening jury is out on this one – no one knows for 100% certain what causes tomato blossoms to fuse together resulting in catfacing. All explanations point to unfavorable growing conditions which lead to incomplete pollination – which in turn merges buds, creating deformities.
A number of factors contribute to growing conditions that influence poor or half-baked pollination.
Yes, tomatoes with catfacing are edible. Cut away the scars. If the tomato has an open wound, check it carefully – lesions are known to attract bacteria, black mold, and other microorganisms.
The puckered shapes on the fruit look like the puckered cheeks on a cat.
Some gardeners claim that heirloom tomatoes are more vulnerable to the disorder. Most certainly, large, round or globe tomatoes are more susceptible to tomato catfacing than plum or cherry varieties.
Catfacing is similar to zippering. Both are caused by pollination problems and temperature changes, but the two are distinct disorders.
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