Tomato growing oddity
August 23, 2022 4:17 PM   Subscribe

I have been growing Roma and San Marzano style tomatoes in my garden this year and last and both years, some of the tomatoes have an odd shape to them that looks sort of like the tomato has a skinny little waist with a belt. These tomatoes ripen up and taste fine (except for the one in the photo, which I accidentally knocked off of the vine way too early), but I was wondering if anyone knows what causes this growth pattern. Here is a photo of one such tomato.
posted by Juffo-Wup to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh yes I’ve noticed this too. I’ve been assuming it was the result of the blossom not dropping right away and constricting growth, but it could also be insufficient water during a specific phase of growth. (Or something else, I’m new to this!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:09 PM on August 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

“Or something else!” is the mantra of all gardeners!

showbiz-liz is on the right track — either of the things she mentioned could cause the waisting — as could an out-of-season drop in temperature.
posted by Silvery Fish at 5:34 PM on August 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

I wonder if it's genetic. Something like fasciation.
posted by 10ch at 5:42 PM on August 23, 2022

I just dropped by to applaud the inclusion of a photo, and using IMGUR to boot! This may be an example of "zippering" which I discovered by Googling for "hourglass shaped tomatoes"
posted by mecran01 at 6:41 PM on August 23, 2022

I’m voting fasciation too.

One of the Reddit commenters says it’s more common in heirloom varieties.

Cut it in half lengthwise; if it has two of the internal whitish branching structures that issue from a stem, then I think it must be fasciation.
posted by jamjam at 6:44 PM on August 23, 2022

Cut it in half lengthwise; if it has two of the internal whitish branching structures that issue from a stem, then I think it must be fasciation.

What OP is describing, and what that photo shows, are tomatoes with a constriction halfway DOWN the tomato, not near the stem. Not fasciation.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:57 AM on August 24, 2022

I usually think of zippering going from the stem to the blossom end rather than around the circumference, but I guess that's possible.

I wonder if it might incomplete pollination. Fruit will only develop (or develop fully) around seeds that are pollinated. This can be a lot more obvious as constrictions along the length of summer squash or cucumbers. There's lots of info online about improving tomato (and peppers, eggplant, etc.) pollination--either by hand or doing things to attract more native solitary and bumblebees which are more efficient at pollinating these plants than honeybees.
posted by sevenless at 7:46 AM on August 24, 2022

There are instances of zippering (stitching) that are longitudinal rather than latitudinal (example picture). It's more common where cool weather is a concern for such a warm weather species, which seems to fit your location. I suspect it's an outcome in this family that, if not specifically zippering caused by anther adhesion during early fruit development, may represent other early development contact injuries (like the entire flower corolla adhering, leaving a circumferential contact zone).

The suggestion above to share a cross section through the fruit is a good one. I wouldn't expect fasciation since there's such a clear scar (fasciation has smooth transitions in tissue, more often than not) but an anatomical view would clear that up quick. If it looks like a single tomatoe with a cinched waist in the middle, it's a kind of zippering/stitching.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:32 AM on August 24, 2022

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