Tomato Cat-facing

When it comes to growing tomatoes I thought I knew 95% of what there was to know but it seems that seasoned gardeners like myself  can still learn a thing or two. If someone had told me  that some of my tomatoes were affected by cat-facing I would have told them to quit pulling my lateralsTomatoes affected by catfacing Even as I write this I’m bemused that after 40 plus years of growing toms I’ve never heard the term “cat-facing”. Obviously I’m no expert when it comes to this however after having undertaken a little research I’m slightly better informed. I have noticed this phenomenon before but it’s never concerned me as we don’t sell tomatoes therefore ascetics are a non issue and it certainly doesn’t affect the flavour. My view on tomatoes is “they don’t have to look wonderful but they do need to taste wonderful “. Cutting out all the the ugly bits is just part of enjoying delicious home grown tomatoes. Sure the supermarket variety look perfect but when it comes to the all important taste test they fail dismally.

From what I’ve read cat-facing appears to be a physiological disorder that causes scars and cavities at the blossom end of the fruit. It can be linked to poor growing conditions such as soil, weather, and fluctuations in temperature during the early stages of flower and bud development. Other fruits including apples and stone fruits can be also be affected. In our garden it appears to be more prevalent amongst the larger fleshy heirloom tomatoes like Brandy-wine and Black Krim, I’ve never seen it on hybrids such as Beefsteak or Money Makers. Excess nitrogen levels also appear to be a factor so my decision this year to ease up on chicken manure which is high in nitrogen probably was a good one. I did this not because of cat-facing but rather the high incidence of blossom end rot during the 2012/13 season. This year I only spotted one tomato with it but that’s a success story for another day.

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