Sunscald on a tomato.

Sometimes the top or side of a tomato develops a whitish or yellowish plaque on the sunniest side of the plant. Over time it can become flattened, papery, and grayish white.

The fruit is simply suffering from sunburn or, to use the correct term, sunscald. It occurs when a fruit that was previously shaded is suddenly exposed to full sun. This happens when the upper leaves of the plant are removed or, in the case of plants grown in pots, you have changed the plant’s orientation.

Sunscalded fruits will not heal, but do remain edible. Just cut off the damaged part.

To prevent sunscald, avoid removing the top leaves of your tomatoes and if you need to move a potted tomato plant to a new spot, either do it on a cloudy day (thus giving the fruits a chance to adapt to the change) or keep its original orientation.

Other Fruits

Severely sunscalded peppers.

Sunscald can also affect other fruit-bearing vegetables like peppers, eggplants, and cucumbers and the same preventative treatment applies: just don’t suddenly expose them to full sun!20160812A

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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