Mutant Tomatoes


“What is this condition called,

SciFi2009

and what causes it?  ~R.”

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I’ve got to admit, these tomatoes take the cake!  WOW!  What an impressive photo!

For such a cool-looking problem, I wish I had a glamorous answer.  Unfortunately, this one is pretty plain and simple:

This condition is most often caused by low temperatures during bloom and pollination. Warm temperatures are required for various stuctures within the flower to form.  If it is too cool, cells that make up these structures do not divide properly.  When the flower opens, there is the possibility that the ovaries (seed bearing cells) may be sterile or misshapen.  Once pollinated, the fruit forms around this and indentions form where there is a sterile or misshapen ovary.  The result is fruit that are oddly shaped and usually of poor quality (at least in terms of marketability).  From the research I have examined, it seems that 55 degrees F is about the cutoff — below this and your chance of interesting art hanging on your plants increases.

Dry conditions and very hot weather can also contribute to pollination problems. Instead of the ovaries being sterile or misshapen, it is the pollen that is damaged by hot temperatures.  Once the temperature goes above about 95-100 degrees, the proteins structures within begin to change their shape.  This can do one of two things: kill the pollen or make it a unit of mutations waiting to happen.  If the pollen is dead, the ovary is not pollinated and does not form seeds.  If the pollen is mutated, it can cause improper seed development.  With either, indentations on the fruit and misshapen fruits occur.

While these fruits may not look the best, they usually taste fine and are safe to eat.  You just have to watch a bit more closely for the skin to crack on them: more surface area = more cracking potential.  It is always important to be careful with fruits that have cracked, as those openings are a great place for bacteria to get in.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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