Bruised, rotten tomatoes

Asked August 18, 2020, 10:22 PM EDT

Between Friday morning and Tuesday evening, a period of 4.5 days, ripening tomatoes on my plant became horribly bruised and rotten. This year, I was picking the tomatoes before they ripened thoroughly. On Friday, the tomatoes were just beginning to ripen. Also on Wednesday, I tied up several stalks that had fallen due to tropical storm, Isais. What happened to the tomatoes? I had to throw very many away, and they weren’t even ripe. Might this be damage from the storm? The first photo is from Tuesday, and the second is from Friday. In advance, thank you for your reply.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

3 Responses

Hi- picking fruits when they first begin to turn color is a good strategy for reducing the many problems that ripening fruits face when they remain on the vine. Unfortunately, weather events, climate change, and other environmental stressors can wreak havoc, even in well-managed crops.

Multiple factors led to the situation depicted in the photos. We had extreme and prolonged heat (elevated day and evening temps) in July that negatively affected fruit quality (sunscald, uneven ripening, softening, cracking). High winds, pelting rain, and physical rubbing of stems, supports, and fruits also injured fruits and accelerated two key fruit diseases- anthracnose and bacterial soft rot.

There was nothing you could really do, other than redouble efforts to pick fruit earlier and keep plants well-supported. Hopefully, you will have lots more fruit to harvest this season.


Thank you for this prompt and extremely helpful response. I was unaware of anthracnose on tomato plants, and the link you provided mentioned another telltale clue that I noticed today: salmon fungi inside the dark, sunken spots.

The maintenance advise was helpful. As soon as I planted the tomatoes, I mulched with a single layer of brown grocery bags and covered with salt marsh hay. You can see that in the photo. My mistake was inadequate plant support. Though I had large, sturdy tomato cages, they were not enough for the large, heavy plants. After the tropical storm, branches had fallen. Between the high winds and act of shoring them up, it seems the fruit became bruised.

Though I only water the roots of the plant with a Dramm water wand, we probably had too much rain, and the size of the plants reduced air flow. I’ll know to stake the plants better next year.

Again, thank you so much!