When you get beefsteak tomato seeds to grow, you picture a crop laden with big, beefy, flavorful tomatoes. Yet you end up with a bunch of small fruits that fail to lay an impression. What went wrong? Why are my beefsteak tomatoes small?
While the problem may not be as distressing as the more severe tomato diseases that lead to blossom drops and fruit rots, it’s still a concern. There can be several reasons why your beefsteak crop isn’t growing tomatoes to their optimal size. Let’s take a look at the different reasons for small tomatoes so you may enjoy better results in the future.
What’s The Optimal Size Of A Beefsteak Tomato?
Since we’re comparing, it will help to know the optimal size of tomatoes that we should be expecting. How big do they grow?
Beefsteak tomatoes are the old-fashioned varieties that grow big and juicy. Slices from these tomatoes are the perfect additions to hamburgers, pizzas, and sandwiches. When speaking of beefsteak tomatoes, it’s not a single variety that we’re referring to. It’s, rather a class of tomatoes.
Though they come in a range of sizes and colors, they’re the largest of the tomatoes you’ll find.
Most beefsteak varieties typically weigh between 8 to 12 ounces.
Some can even weigh more than 2 pounds (1kg) for a single fruit!
Why Are My Beefsteak Tomatoes Small?
Finding small, unattractive tomatoes on the vine can be frustrating. If your beefsteak tomatoes aren’t growing to their optimal size, there could be a bunch of factors responsible for the problem. Since most of them are environmental factors that result in small tomatoes, they can easily be rectified to obtain the optimal size you’re hoping for.
1. Root Damage
You need to be very careful when transplanting the seedlings into your garden. These delicate plants have even delicate roots. Pull the plant out gently from its original container, making sure the gardening tools don’t break or damage the roots in the process. Root damage can result in stunted growth, fewer blossoms, and poor development of fruits.
2. Mislabeled Seeds
Different varieties of tomatoes produce different sizes of tomatoes. It could be that the seed labelled “beefsteak tomatoes” that you bought from the nursery isn’t beefsteak after all. A friend called me up and asked me why are my beefsteak tomatoes so small? After looking over them it was clear they were not beefsteak tomatoes. The store he brought them from had mislablled them. The only true way to help guarantee is to grow your own from seed.
3. Lack Of Water
Tomatoes are 95% water. You can’t expect those plump, juicy fruits when you’ve not given them enough to drink. They need plenty of water, one or two deep waterings per week, to keep the plants from damage.
Make sure that the top 6 inches of soil is consistently moist, or the plants won’t be able to produce enough energy from photosynthesis. Timing is just as crucial as the watering frequency. Water early in the morning so that the soil has a chance to absorb the water before the evaporation rate increases with the heat of the day.
4. High Temperature
Small beefsteak tomatoes are a common complaint of gardeners living in the Southeast. The hot and humid climate of the region, especially from late spring to early fall, can be challenging for the plants. Heat stress can cause the tomato plants to concentrate their energies on surviving through the harsh climate than to develop fruits to their desired size.
Although the climate isn’t in your control, there are certain measures you can take to help the plants through the stressful time. Keep them well-watered, mulch the soil to keep the soil temperatures down and shade them lightly, especially from the afternoon sun. However, too much shade (lack of sunlight) can also cause tomato fruits to be too small.
5. Too Much Nitrogen
Over-fertilization is often the cause of small beefsteak tomato fruits. Gardeners often overdue fertilization, thinking it will benefit the plants. However, very often, it creates the opposite effect.
Overuse of nitrogen-based fertilizers promotes leaf growth on the tomato plants. The result will be healthy, green tomato plants, but little fruits. Even the fruits that do appear will be small and tasteless.
You can promote bigger and more plentiful fruits on a tomato plant by using a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer according to the package instructions.
6. Excess Suckers
As tomato plants develop, they produce tiny branches called suckers between the main stem and branches. These suckers grow into branches, producing more suckers as they develop. Many gardeners like to pinch out the suckers to keep the number of branches per plant to a minimum. This helps the plant to focus its energies into fewer fruits to give larger and more flavorful tomatoes. Too many branches on the plant can result in plentiful, but small fruits.
7. Poor Pollination
Poor pollination is often the reason for poor fruit set (smaller and fewer tomatoes). Most tomato varieties are self-pollinating. For pollen to fall onto the pistil from the stamens, wind plays an important role. If plants are planted too close together, with little air circulation between them, or if the climate is too humid, proper pollination may not occur. Space the plants correctly, and hand pollinate them if the environmental conditions aren’t suitable enough for natural pollination.
8. Unwanted Shade
Make sure your beefsteak tomato plants get plenty of sunlight and aren’t shaded by buildings or trees. Tomatoes need sunlight for photosynthesis, and photosynthesis produces the energy for growing fruit. Unless they get ample sunlight throughout the growing season, they won’t be giving those big harvests that you’re hoping for.
Conclusion For Why Are My Beefsteak Tomatoes Small
If you had been wondering why are my beefsteak tomatoes small, you’d probably have figured out the answer by now. Once you know what went wrong this time, you can avoid it in the future. Make sure you don’t give your tomato plants any reason to produce less-than-perfect tomatoes for the upcoming growing season.