When Are Tomatoes Prepared for Harvest – In accordance with Selection – Tiny Backyard Behavior

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I grew up round tomatoes, so most of our harvesting strategies come from instincts led by odor and
contact. Even now, when our tomato vegetation are nearing harvest time I get excited each time I get
close to the greenhouse. However, it’s essential to step again and hearken to your tomatoes to keep away from
impatiently harvesting them earlier than they’re prepared.

Tomatoes will let you know after they’re prepared to reap. Totally different varieties have completely different clues, however you possibly can all the time depend on contact, odor and coloration. Tomato vegetation have a robust aroma that may fill a greenhouse, however when the solar begins to darken their skins, and the flesh inside ripens within the afternoon warmth, the fragrance is intoxicating.

I’ll attempt to restrain my enthusiasm right here and follow the information, however there may be nothing like the enjoyment of a vine-ripened tomato, plucked contemporary from the plant and sliced onto the barbeque in late July. Observe our information to select your tomatoes at the very best time.

When to select tomatoes

Tomatoes ought to be picked when ripe, not earlier than, not after. Tomatoes picked too quickly are watery, and crammed with seeds and moisture that hasn’t but developed into agency, juicy flesh. Tomatoes picked too late run the chance of being eaten by wildlife and splitting their skins.

The largest distinction between tomatoes picked at residence, and tomatoes from the grocery retailer is water content material. It is because business tomato farms decide tomatoes as much as per week earlier than they ripen, and ripen them in storage and transit. These fruits are crammed with water and style OK, however don’t have the punch of sun-ripened tomatoes that proceed to attract vitamins from the plant till simply earlier than they’re cooked.

When are tomatoes ripe?

There are two units of clues to selecting tomatoes; the primary is all about timing, and helps you schedule watering, feeding, and air flow in your vegetation. The second is about understanding bodily indicators. Under, we’ll discuss by way of each.

Days to maturity

All tomatoes are completely different. Some ripen in 7-8 weeks whereas others can take as much as 15 weeks to start out cropping. Under, we’ve obtained a desk sharing the confirmed cropping instances, from seed to fruit, for a number of the hottest varieties you possibly can develop at residence.

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We’ve chosen these well-liked varieties as a result of they’re moderately reflective of their group. For instance, an ordinary crimson plum tomato will ripen slower than a black plum tomato. A typical crimson salad tomato will ripen a lot faster than a pale or green-skinned salad tomato. However in each circumstances, salad tomatoes are prepared to select prior to plums. 

Sort Days to maturity (planting out* > harvest)
Roma (customary plum) 80 days
Pink Ponderosa (pale beefsteak) 90 days
Zlatava (mid-coloured salad) 70 days
Cash Maker (customary salad) 65 days
Inexperienced Zebra (pale salad) 80 days
Black Cherry (darkish skinned cherry) 50 days
Pink Cherry (customary cherry) 60 days

*add 2-3 weeks for tomatoes grown from seed reasonably than seedlings.

The way to inform when a tomato is prepared for harvest

Bodily indicators that tomatoes are prepared to reap embrace: coloration, texture, ease of selecting, and odor. The bodily indicators of ripe fruit on tomato vegetation are very intuitive however, when they’re at their greatest, they may look darker, and really feel softer than tomato fruit from the shop.


Retailer-bought tomatoes are barely paler than they need to be as they ripen off the plant. If we take Cash Maker for instance, the crimson skins of this dependable tomato selection are a shiny, ruby crimson, of their retail punnets. Residence-grown Cash Maker tomatoes ought to be a deep crimson when they’re ripe.

Pink tomatoes are easy to test based mostly on coloration, however others like Black Cherry, or Zlatava are black and orange respectively. They need to be picked when nearly all of the fruit is identical deep tone, however earlier than the complete fruit is one coloration. Permitting some coloration fade in direction of the bottom of the black or yellow fruits reduces the chance of overripening and chalky texture.


Ripe tomatoes are agency however give slightly below stress. In the event you press gently on the pores and skin of a tomato, it ought to depart a slight indent with minimal effort. If the fruit doesn’t indent in any respect, it’s not ripe. If the indentation is deep and has no bounce-back, your fruit is barely overripe however superb to eat.

For inexperienced tomatoes, like Inexperienced Zebra, contact is crucial signal of ripening. Inexperienced tomatoes have much less perfume and don’t change coloration as they ripen, so checking the firmness of fruits frequently after 70 days is essential.

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Ease of selecting

Ripe tomatoes will simply pull off the plant with their sepals and pedicels intact. Sepals are the inexperienced star-shaped construction that is still on the prime of a fruit after the flower has been pollinated. Pedicels are the information of stems that maintain tomatoes to their vine. They often have a small knuckle about 5mm above the fruit.

Bending a ripe tomato in direction of the vine ought to trigger the pedicel to snap at its knuckle, leaving inexperienced components hooked up to every fruit. Preserve these inexperienced components hooked up to forestall mould from rising into your fruits.


In the event you’re not assured with the contact take a look at and don’t wish to danger by accident selecting unripe tomatoes, odor is an effective way to inform if tomatoes are prepared to select. 

Tomato vegetation have a vibrant and spicy perfume. The odor is created by oils on the finish of superb hairs known as trichomes alongside the stem of every plant. These oils assist defend the plant from pests. As tomatoes ripen, the spicy perfume is changed by a sweeter tomato fragrance that smells virtually precisely the way it tastes.

The way to harvest tomatoes

There are 4 essential kinds of tomatoes: cherry, beefsteak, salad, and plum. Every could be grown as vining or bush tomatoes relying on the particular selection, but it surely’s the fruit itself that determines how one can decide it, reasonably than the expansion habits of the plant.

Selecting cherry tomatoes is about regularity and offering sufficient mild for ripening fruits in order that they ripen evenly. (Test this information on pruning cherry tomatoes to permit for extra daylight and airflow). Some hybrid cherry tomatoes, like Romello, ought to be harvested individually as they ripen, whereas others develop on lengthy vines, with as much as twenty fruits on a single vine.

Choose beefsteak tomatoes individually after they ripen, permitting them to ripen totally on the plant earlier than selecting. Beefsteak tomatoes are all about texture, so selecting unripe beefsteaks provides you watery facilities and chalky flesh. Ripe beefsteaks ought to have strong flesh, with some juice round seed pockets.

Salad tomatoes is likely to be stuffed with water within the retailer, however on the vine, they need to be allowed to flesh out inside. A superbly ripe salad tomato ought to be 50% flesh and 50% juice inside. One of the best cue for choosing salad tomatoes is texture. They need to have deeply coloured skins, and provides means simply barely when squeezed between your finger and thumb. 

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Selecting plum tomatoes is the simplest of all. Plum tomatoes are primarily grown for his or her even moisture content material. They need to be virtually solely flesh, with mushy, juicy facilities. Plum tomatoes are grown primarily for sauces, so reasonably than having to cube them right into a pan, simply wait till they’re barely overripe, and squeeze them into the pan. Plum tomatoes have skinny skins that prepare dinner down properly, so don’t must be eliminated.

How usually to reap tomatoes

One wholesome plum tomato plant can simply produce over 20lbs of fruit in a great summer time, so decide tomatoes frequently to keep away from a glut of fruit sitting in your fruit bowl and going to waste.

Cherry tomatoes are notably susceptible to gluts, as well-ventilated vegetation enable mild by way of, ripening round twenty small fruits at a time.

Keep away from leaving ripe tomatoes on the plant, as ripe tomatoes won’t develop additional, and can merely cut up in the event that they preserve being fed with water. Break up tomatoes develop mould and turn into unusable.

The way to look after ripening tomatoes

As your vegetation get shut to reap, it’s best to change your tomato care routine barely, focussing on watering, fertilizer, and air flow:

Water: Tomatoes in a develop bag ought to be given about 1L of water, per plant, per day earlier than fruit seems. When fruit begins to develop, water them with 1-2L per day, day-after-day. The hot button is regularity although, so don’t water 1L in the future, then none the following, then 2L, as it will trigger blight and cut up fruits.

Fertilizer: It may be tempting to cease feeding vegetation after they begin to ripen. The concept being that the plant has executed its work. Nonetheless, tomato fertilizers have calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, which all assist to guard fruits from issues like blossom finish rot, and botrytis. Proceed feeding tomato vegetation as soon as per week as fruits ripen.

Air flow: As fruits start to ripen it’s essential to maintain pruning your vegetation. Permitting mild in is vital to completely ripe tomatoes, in addition to air flow to forestall late blight. 

Selecting unripe tomatoes (professionals and cons)

As I discussed above, selecting unripe tomatoes is commonplace in business manufacturing. By frequently selecting tomatoes earlier than they’re totally ripe, you encourage repeat cropping varieties to provide extra fruit and assist develop bigger fruits afterward. Nonetheless, you additionally cut back the standard of your crop.

Pests Eradicating tomatoes earlier than they’re totally ripe reduces the probabilities of pests, and wildlife attending to your crop earlier than you do. N/A
High quality N/A Tomatoes ripened off the plant have considerably much less taste than vine-ripened tomatoes, and comprise extra water.
Illness Eradicating practically ripe tomatoes reduces the prospect of these tomatoes creating blossom finish rot as they ripen. Eradicating tomatoes earlier than they ripen encourages extra development of different fruit and additional foliage. This may encourage micro organism and humidity.
Yield Repeat cropping varieties will produce extra fruit because of eradicating unripe tomatoes and ripening them within the kitchen. Your yield will last more. Any late crops shall be smaller, and the sooner crops won’t have totally developed. Your yield shall be lighter.
Harm management If late blight or southern blight is affecting tomato vegetation, it’s greatest to take away any unripe fruit and try to ripen it indoors. Take away any development above the affected space and burn it. N/A

The way to harvest unripe tomatoes

In case you are harvesting unripe tomatoes by alternative, make sure that to maintain them on the vine, and depart as a lot stem as potential. Leaving extra stem hooked up to every fruit permits any remaining vitamins to move into the fruit. This additionally reduces the chance of micro organism coming into the fruit because the stem acts as a barrier.

There are some circumstances the place it’s a must to harvest unripe tomatoes as they’re creating above an space of blight or botrytis, which must be eliminated. On this case, preserve as a lot stem hooked up as potential, however take away any diseased or broken stems so they don’t have an effect on the ripening fruit.

The way to ripen tomatoes indoors

Unripe tomatoes want mild and warmth to ripen away from the plant. The easiest way to do that is to arrange a well-ventilated spot on a windowsill, in full solar. The sunshine and warmth assist to darken tomato skins, and airflow reduces standing moisture that would spoil the crop.

Bananas are a fantastic hack for ripening tomatoes. Ripe bananas launch a fuel known as ethene, which breaks down cell partitions and helps to melt the flesh of fruit that has been harvested too early.

Frequent tomato harvesting issues

Totally different tomato varieties undergo from completely different issues because of the way you harvest them, however there are just a few easy guidelines to comply with (and keep away from) to make sure the very best outcomes:

Break up skins

As tomato vegetation develop, lacking a day or two of watering isn’t going to do a lot harm. As soon as fruits type although, regularity is all the things. Tomato vegetation regulate their development based mostly on how a lot water they obtain, and it takes just a few days for his or her hormones to shift indicators. 

In the event you water masses in the future, then none the following, they may develop quickly, however fail to ship moisture to the brand new cells, which develop a chalky texture. In the event you overlook to water for just a few days, then water masses, the roots will ship all that water to underdeveloped cells. This causes skins to separate on fruits, and mold shortly units in.

Blossom finish rot

Blossom finish rot is an indication of calcium deficiency. There’s nothing fallacious with tomatoes with blossom finish rot, and you may eat the complete fruit however the crispy base of every fruit ought to be discarded. Blossom finish rot is most typical on beefsteak tomatoes. 

In the event you discover dry, brown patches on the underside of tomatoes, add calcium to your water, or bone meal to the soil. Tomato roots reply shortly to calcium so it’s best to see an enchancment inside per week.

Botrytis (gray mould) on fruit

Botrytis is irritating, and sometimes mistaken for blight. The gray mould develops totally on stems and leaves however can unfold to fruit. In the event you spot any mould on tomato vegetation, minimize it off and burn it. 

That is often the results of poor air flow and excessive humidity. Keep away from watering leaves, and keep pruning proper by way of the season.

Eradicating sepals & stems

In the event you by accident pull a tomato off the plant or take away the sepals and pedicels, it creates a small gap on the crown of the fruit. This gap is uncovered to funguses and may rot shortly. Use these tomatoes first as they gained’t preserve for greater than per week.

Ripe tomatoes being eaten by pests

The commonest downside we have now on the allotment is wildlife. It’s a pleasant downside to have, and we’re often completely happy for squirrels to steal just a few tomatoes. If it’s a must to go away for just a few days whereas tomatoes are ripening, get somebody to select them for you, or throw netting over your vegetation.

Birds, rabbits, deer, squirrels, and just about anything will attempt to eat ripe tomatoes if they’ll entry them.


I took a fast break from writing to test on our tomatoes, as we’ve obtained some early cherry tomatoes starting to ripen outdoors. Simply as I walked into the greenhouse a squirrel ran out with the primary crimson cherry of the yr. Whereas it’s irritating, it does assist my level – crucial a part of harvesting tomatoes is checking them frequently.

That’s all the things you might want to know. Tomatoes are prepared for harvest as quickly as they appear it. In the event that they odor candy, and so they give means with only a light contact, you’ve obtained completely ripe tomatoes, prepared to select. And don’t wait till the native wildlife beats you to it. 

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