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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Abnormal Fruit Development

These disorders are both related to environmental conditions during flower development or pollination.

Catfaced fruit show scars and openings on the blossom-end and are often deformed. It usually affects the earliest fruit of large fruited varieties.  Temperatures below 15°C (59°F) during flower development (even weeks before bloom) tend to increase the incidence of catfaced fruit.  Anything that interferes with flower development, such as hormonal herbicide injury, can also cause catfacing.  High soil nitrogen levels and excessive pruning may contribute to the problem. 

Large fruited, fresh market tomatoes are most susceptible to catfacing.  There is a wide variation in susceptibility to this disorder among fresh market tomato varieties.

Zippering is the appearance of thin, linear scars that extend from the stem-end of the fruit all or part way to the blossom-end. Openings in the fruit wall may occur along the scar. Zippering is associated with pollination problems, often attributed to low or high temperatures or high humidity during pollination. Cultivars vary in susceptibility.

Puffiness describes a disorder in which the fruit develops with flat sides, rather than rounded. When cut open, the cavities are enlarged and may lack gel. The fruit is light in weight. Puffiness is associated with poor pollination and can be caused by temperature extremes during pollination or seed development, improper nutrition, extreme variations in soil moisture, and genetic factors. Cultivars vary in susceptibility. 

Often Confused With
Pesticide injury
Cutworm, hornworm, or tomato fruitworm damage (openings in fruit wall)

Severe catfacing of tomato fruit Severe catfacing on an heirloom variety External symptoms of puffiness Cross sections of tomatoes exhibiting puffiness Puffiness Puffiness Range of catfacing symptoms on tomato fruit Zippering and exposed locules Zippering and exposed locules
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