Critters and tomatoes! Yikes!

Smiles Jr.

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Hi again everyone, it seems that the only time I talk to you guys is when I'm waiving the distress flag. Sorry.
In all my years of gardening I have never had animals get into tomato plants. Oh yeah, when I free ranged our chickens they would jump up to peck now and then. But this attack is outrageous! I'm pretty sure it's coons due to the amount of damage. But I didn't even know raccoons liked tomatoes especially if they don't have a place to wash them. I have 3 rows of 12 tomato plants and there are 13 plants out of the 36 that may not recover. This morning I found 9 big beautiful red tomatoes partially eaten out in the grass and 20+/_ green ones chewed upon on the plants. Lots of little branches broken and clusters of small green tomatoes broken off.
Any suggestions other than staying up all night with my shotgun?
 

Carol Dee

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No help here. Hot wire fencing is up around corn they always get 1st, we will see if it helps.
 

flowerbug

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we have a fence around the garden out back where we grow most of the tomatoes. we do not grow sweet corn so they are not attracted in there very often. once in a while i find signs of them in there because they will look under and behind the larger rocks for hornet/wasps nests (and eat them). anyways in our many years here we have never had raccoons show any interest at all in our tomatoes.

i'm wondering if you are going through a protracted dry spell there? is there water available? perhaps they are just after them because of the moisture? that is my guess...

i probably should not have said anything because sometimes i feel that as soon as i say something never happens it then seems like it will to prove me wrong.

we do have running water going through the property from two directions so there is rarely any lack of drinking water for animals in addition to the several bird baths we try to keep clean and full of water. deer will even come in during the dry spells and drink from the bird baths.
 

Zeedman

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Never known raccoons to go after tomatoes. As @flowerbug suggested, in drier climates (such as when I gardened in SoCal) animals that would not otherwise eat tomatoes might do so for the water content. I doubt Indiana would get that dry.

Voles are my biggest tomato pest, they generally take an interest in them just as they begin to ripen, and will chew holes in many of them unless trapped. The degree of damage mentioned in the OP is noteworthy... although I can't rule out raccoons, my first suspicions would be either deer, or ground hogs. Deer are more likely to tear things up.
 

digitS'

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@Smiles Jr.

The only thing that I have had really tear up the tomatoes, plants & fruit, were deer. Tracks and droppings. Something that the deer left that seemed odd was the crushed and dropped green tomatoes. Did you see any like that?It was as tho they tasted those tomatoes and decided, nah.

I know that there are raccoons that show up in the garden for the corn, although it has been many years since I have seen one in my or the neighbor's garden. I'm not always sure about what might eat half of a large tomato and leave what remains but I suspect the quail. Once again, there are plenty of them in the 2019 garden.

My tomato plants don't look like much this year. Sure hope nothing tears them up.

Steve
 

Smiles Jr.

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20190729_071830.jpg We have lots of deer around here and the damage looks like something deer could do. I put wire fence on both sides of each row yesterday (se photo) and there seems to be no damage this morning. Or maybe they took a night off. Hmmm.
We have a two acre pond near the tomatoes so lack of water may not be the issue.
 

digitS'

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I was trying a "board trellis" in that tomato patch the last year for deer damage.

There were just a few plants in that garden, maybe 8 or 10. The plants were quite tall and the deer mostly sheared off every branch above the 1 by 2's. They "reached in" here and there to pull individual fruits out but didn't do any real damage to the lower parts of the plants. So, the boards and posts kinda saved them from more damage.

Tomato plants are supposed to be toxic, potatoes, too. However, there was another season when the only deer damage was to the potatoes! Saw those 3 ...

Steve
 
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