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If you love cooking, eating, or both, then there is nothing quite as rewarding as growing your own produce for a brilliantly sustainable and renewable food source. While growing your own fruit and veg, you may notice differences between the food you have grown and the food you buy in shops. Fruit and veg are not naturally as flawless as the shops would have you think; they have high and strict requirements for how fresh food should look before it is sold.
Any spots, blemishes, or deformities that are detected usually end up being enough for the food to be discarded. So, seeing black spots on your tomatoes may come as a surprise but is actually a lot more common than you would think.
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What Are The Black Spots?
When growing your own food, the amount of time and effort put into it is severely underestimated by a lot of people. It truly is a labor of love, and you have to do research and maintenance to get them to grow properly. When the end result is finally here, you are really hoping for nothing less than perfect.
The black spots found on the tomato fruits are typically either bacteria or rot. Some tomato leaves will become damaged before the fruit ripens, and it will then spread to the fruit. Healthy plants are also likely to get infected if you use the same gardening tools for all of your tomato plants and if you splash water around while watering the infected plants. If your plants get splashed by water from the affected tomato plant, they will become infected as it spreads rapidly with the help of water.
Wet weather is also bad for this, even if it is not a disease. The affected areas and infected fruit will infect other plants if they share the same water as that is how the bacteria will spread.
Are They Safe to Eat?
If your entire plant is covered in black spots, then it is not okay to eat anything from it. If your plant appears okay and it is only some affected tomatoes that have black spots, then you can eat the ones that are unaffected. You can eat the seemingly unaffected green fruit as long as there are no black spots on it. Any of the green and ripe tomatoes or tomato fruit that are covered in black dots are not recommended to be eaten.
What Causes Them?
There are many different things that can cause black dots on your tomato fruit and tomato plants. These can vary from being a disease to being a simple deficiency in important nutrients. The most common reasons for black spots are;
- Blossom end rot
- Bacterial speck
- Bacterial spot
- Alternaria Canker
Blossom End Rot
Blossom end rot is easily described as dark black or brown spots appearing on the bottom of the fruit; this is the blossom end of the fruit and is the reason for the very apt name. The main reason this occurs in your tomato plants is because of a deficiency in calcium. The nutrients of your soil should be monitored, and if you are experiencing this deficiency, you need to have more calcium-rich soil.
The fruits that already have spots on them will be invaded by secondary organisms that will tear the fruit from the inside out, which means there is no saving them. It is best to pick them and throw them away so that the plant can use all of its energy to maintain the healthy fruits so that you can eventually harvest ripe tomatoes from this very same plant. If you are wanting to eat tomatoes from this plant, you are completely safe as long as they do not have spots on them. It is best to wait for them to ripen as you do not want to eat green tomatoes.
As the name would have you assume, this bacterial infection is caused by a bacterium known as Pseudomonas syringae PV. This is a very common disease that is going to affect your tomato plants early on in the growing season. The infected plants will have the leaves start showing signs of the disease, and then it will spread to the fruit. This is caused mostly by contaminated tomato seeds and is best thriving in a cool and wet environment.
The tomato plant, unfortunately, cannot be saved, although as long as it is not infecting any of the unaffected plants, you can keep harvesting from it and eating the unaffected fruit. At the end of the growing season, dig out the plant and throw it away. To avoid reinfection, it is best not to immediately replant in the same location.
Bacterial spot is very similar to bacterial speck, although it is caused by different bacteria. This bacteria will go straight for the fruit and will give the fruit a white halo. Once the spots enlarge and become sunken, you will know your plant is infected. It is best to dig up the plant and burn it to avoid anything else getting infected.
This is a fungal disease that is very rare as people have been able to plant resistant varieties of tomato plants that are completely immune to this disease. Unless you are growing a susceptible variety in North Carolina, you will likely not encounter this disease.
FAQs On Tomato Black Spots
Why do my tomatoes have black spots on them?
There are many reasons why your tomatoes have black spots on them. In most cases, it is a bacterial infection. If this is the case, the unaffected tomatoes are still good to eat, although any with a black spot is to be removed and thrown away.
Is it safe to eat tomatoes with anthracnose?
It is best not to eat tomatoes with anthracnose. To avoid it, regularly apply fungicide and pick your tomatoes as soon as they are ripe. Ripe fruits are more prone to anthracnose so picking them immediately will help keep them healthy.