Studies show that 9 out of 10 home gardeners plant tomatoes in their gardens. There is nothing better than juicy, red tomatoes straight out of your home garden. Fruits like tomatoes are a part of our daily diets due to their high nutritional value. They are loaded with lycopene and provide us with antioxidant protection.
But sometimes you come across tomatoes that are different than the usual. Many home gardeners use the term ‘mealy’ to describe what they feel like. Such tomatoes can be difficult to spot but you should know what causes mealy tomatoes and how to avoid them.
This article has all the information you need to get about mealy tomatoes, what causes mealy tomatoes, how to avoid them, and how to use them. So keep on reading to find out more!
What Are Mealy Tomatoes?
Mealy tomatoes are tomatoes with softened flesh. People who grow tomatoes for a longer period label a type of tomatoes as mealy. They are called mealy due to their weird texture, which is the same as cornstarch mixed with water, i.e., a granular, unpleasant texture.
Such grainy texture is a result of the conversion of natural sugars to starch by the plant. However, despite being different, they are not harmful and are safe to eat.
What Causes Mealy Tomatoes?
People who plant tomatoes in their home gardens come across different problems, which include the production of mealy tomatoes. The mealiness in tomatoes can be caused by several different reasons. Some of them are:
- Imbalance of nutrients
- Too much heat
- Plant stress
- Under or over-watering
Imbalance Of Nutrients
Tissue testing is a common technique to test the imbalance of nutrients in plants. If the mealiness in your tomato plant is due to a high nitrogen level, low calcium level, or low potassium level, then it can be determined by tissue testing.
The most likely to occur cause of mealiness in tomato plants is a high level of nitrogen and a low level of potassium. Nitrogen in a tomato leaf tissue should be between 4 to 5.5%. Problems like flower abortion, curling up of the tops of the plant, and missed flower clusters can arise due to a high level of nitrogen.
Damage to the tomato plants and their fruits can also be caused by the low potassium level. The level of potassium in leaf tissues should be maintained within a range of 4 to 7%. During fruit development, lower levels of potassium can affect growth.
Too Much Heat
Another common problem that is most likely to occur during the summer season is the excess heat. Too much direct sunlight can result in the softness of tomatoes, which causes mealiness.
Another cause of mealiness that most people do not know about is refrigeration. If tomatoes are kept in cold places where the temperature drops below 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, they are likely to get a chilling injury. It also destroys the flavor of the fruit.
Plant stress may be the answer to your question what causes mealy tomatoes? It can occur due to numerous different reasons which include overwatering, underwatering, too much or too low fertilizer, and the size of the container in which the plant is grown.
Under or Over-Watering
Are you watering your plant more or less than what it is asking for? If yes, then this might be the problem that needs to be resolved. Production of mealy tomatoes can be a result of overwatering. Make sure to place your tomato plant in a container with good drainage capacity and water it only when required.
How To Avoid Mealy Tomatoes?
Tomatoes have several different varieties. Almost all of these types can be attacked by mealiness.
If you’re buying tomatoes at a store, the best way to avoid getting mealy tomatoes is to buy a few tomatoes and check for mealiness. Avoid buying that variety or from that store whose tomatoes tend to be mealy. It is the only way to avoid buying from the local suppliers that do not know how to cultivate fresh and healthy tomatoes.
If you’re growing your tomato plant, look out for the causes mentioned above to find out which factor is causing the mealiness in your tomatoes. You need to be extra careful in the summer season as tomatoes are mostly affected by high temperatures as compared to low temperatures.
If you’re unable to find the cause of mealiness in your tomatoes, try tissue testing. Get the sample of your plant tested for the levels of nutrients to check what is causing the problem.
Another thing that needs to be kept in mind is the variety of tomato plants you’re growing. Roma tomatoes as well as pear tomatoes are most likely to be mealy. If you’re unable to solve the problem, try planting a different variety in your garden to see if it works.
How To Use Mealy Tomatoes?
The biggest difference between usual and mealy tomatoes is in their texture. Although they taste slightly different, they can be used in any recipe that involves crushed, blended, or stewed tomatoes.
They are fine for all sorts of uses unless you need to mash them. Try using your mealy tomatoes in making stews and soups where texture does not matter.
This article briefly describes the answer to your question what causes mealy tomatoes?
The causes of mealiness in tomatoes are discussed in detail in this article. If your plant is growing tomatoes that are grainy in texture, look out for all the possible causes. Finding out the problem is the most important step to begin the treatment.
In case of any questions or further queries, reach out and we’ll be glad to help you!