What is Catfacing?
Catfacing remains to be a perennial problem for both home gardeners and commercial growers. It causes the fruit to deform or to have deep crevices. The damage is most common during the early stages of the fruit, but it worsens as the fruit grows larger.
There are many causes of catfacing, but one of the most common is the external environment. It is a frequent problem in places where the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night, especially during the flowering season. Low temperature restricts the pollination. Aside from the temperature, too much nitrogen in the soil is also another common cause of catfacing. More often than not, excessive nitrogen is a result of over-fertilizing. Pruning more than what is necessary can also make the problem worse. Another thing that can contribute to the problem is excessive moisture in the soil, as well as using phenoxy herbicides.
Once the problem already becomes apparent, there is little that you can do as a remedy. More often than not, you have no choice but to just accept the situation. With these, most of the solutions are preventive in nature, as we will discuss in the latter part.
Identifying Catfacing’s Damage
The following are some of the most common symptoms that will give you an idea that your plants are already suffering from catfacing:
- The fruit will show most of the signs of catfacing. There will be scarring, usually on its blossom end. In the worst situations, the scars can extend all the way to the fruit cavity. While you can still eat the fruit, a lot of people may think twice of doing so because it is unappealing.
- There will also be cracks on the fruit, which can be either concentric or radial. In some cases, the cracks will still heal. However, there are also instances wherein they can lead to rotting of the fruit.
- Because of the appearance of holes and cracks, it is also inevitable that the fruit will have a change in color. It may turn brown or white around the area of the deformity.
- Aside from the fruit, there will also be a crack on the stems of the host plant.
Results of Infestation
The most common damage that results from catfacing is the deformation of the fruit of the host plant. It will not fully-develop. Hence, they will also be unfit for human consumption and unmarketable. For commercial growers, this is a huge problem since this means that they will not be able to make a profit out of their crops. Economic loss is a common consequence, which makes it more important to be proactive in your approach to the prevention of such a disorder.
How to Get Rid of Catfacings
Natural and Organic Solutions
For an effective and safe way to deal with catfacing, below are some of the solutions that can prove to be promising:
- Choose varieties that are resistant to catfacing. Check the label if there are indications. Otherwise, do not hesitate to ask the seller or do your research. For tomatoes, avoid heirlooms as they are amongst the most susceptible to catfacing. Instead, consider growing Monte Carlo and Homestead tomato varieties.
- Avoid over-fertilizing. This is especially true if you are using nitrogen fertilizers. Too much nitrogen in the soil will make it contributory to catfacing.
- Remove any fruit that is already showing signs of damage. Because this is not caused by a fungus, it will not transfer from one plant to another. However, if the damaged fruit remains on the plant, it can drain nutrients and will cause other parts to be unhealthy as well.
- The use of shade netting will also help. This is excellent in terms of regulating temperature. When it is already too cold, the net will provide a bit of warmth to the plant to prevent catfacing.
- Throughout the growing season, make sure that the soil has uniform moisture. Regular watering is a must, but you should not overdo it. It will also help to have an effective drainage system so that water does not remain on the surface.
There are no recommended chemical treatments for catfacing. Since it is a physiological disorder and not a disease from fungus, using pesticides is not a common option for minimizing the extent of the problem.