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green tomato on the plant

catfacing of tomatoesCatfacing is an abiotic disorder of tomatoes that affects developing fruit. It is a deformity of tomato fruit when the flower bud develops abnormally before blossoming. It results in the blossom end (bottom) of the fruit to become cracked, misshapen, or have enlarged scars. The deformity’s resemblance to a cat’s puckered cheeks gives the disorder its unusual name.

Large-fruit tomato varieties, like many of the heirloom types, are most often affected by catfacing. It should be noted that the deformity does not detract from the taste of the tomato. Some causes of catfacing include the following:

  • High levels of soil nitrogen
  • Excessive pruning
  • Prolonged cool weather when the plants are young
  • Extreme fluctuations in night and day temperatures
  • Periods of drought followed by heavy rains
  • Irrigation during ripening
  • Exposure to phenoxy herbicides, such as 2, 4-D