5 Reasons for White Spots on Tomatoes

Tomatoes, the vibrant red jewels of the garden, can sometimes perplex gardeners and consumers when they develop white spots. These spots can arise due to various reasons, some benign and others warranting concern. This article will delve into the common causes of white spots on tomatoes and how to manage them.

1. Sunscald

Sunscalded tomatoes on vine
Sunscalded tomatoes with white spots on them on vine

Sunscald is a common culprit behind white spots on tomatoes. It occurs when tomatoes are suddenly exposed to intense sunlight, especially after being shaded for a prolonged period.


  • Irregular, white, or pale patches, usually on the side of the tomato facing the sun.
  • As the tomato matures, these patches can become tan and paper-thin.


  • Ensure that tomatoes have consistent leaf cover to protect them from direct sunlight.
  • Avoid pruning too many leaves, which can expose the fruit.

2. Pesticide or Water Residue

Sometimes, the white spots you see aren’t related to the health of the tomato but are rather superficial residues.


  • White or powdery spots that are easily rubbed off.


  • Ensure you follow the correct dosage if using pesticides or fungicides.
  • Use a soft cloth to wipe off any residue before consuming or storing.

3. Powdery Mildew

While more common in cooler, humid conditions, tomatoes can sometimes fall victim to powdery mildew.


  • White powdery patches on leaves and sometimes on the fruit itself.

Prevention and Treatment:

  • Increase air circulation around plants.
  • Avoid overhead watering which can increase humidity.
  • Apply fungicides specifically designed to treat powdery mildew.

4. Insect Damage

Certain pests can cause white stippling or spots on tomato surfaces.


  • Tiny white dots, usually in clusters.
  • Presence of insects such as stink bugs or mites.

Prevention and Treatment:

  • Regularly inspect plants for pests.
  • Use insecticidal soaps or natural predators like ladybugs.

5. Edema

Edema occurs when the tomato plant absorbs more water than it can use or transpire. This causes internal water pressure to build, leading to blisters or corky patches.


  • Small, white, raised bumps or corky patches on the fruit.


  • Ensure proper watering practices. Avoid over-watering and ensure good drainage.
  • Improve air circulation around plants.


White spots on tomatoes can be concerning, but understanding their causes is the first step to addressing the issue. Whether it’s a simple case of sunscald or an infestation of pests, knowing how to identify and tackle the problem will ensure that you enjoy healthy, delicious tomatoes from your garden or market. Always keep a keen eye on your tomatoes and take early action if you notice anything amiss.

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Bubbly Chef author