When to Pick Tomatoes – Home and Gardening

Tomatoes are a great way to add flavor and color during summer. Growing your very own fruit plants can be easy, if you know what steps need taken in order for them thrive! One important thing about growing tomatoes is knowing when they’re ready—there’s nothing worse than harvesting too soon or waiting until late so that the fruits become overripe and lose their nutritional value as well potency from being picked before its time (this includes both green ones which haven’t yet ripened fully but also ripe ones).

The pests nearest these tasty treats include rabbits/deer & chipmunks-who love eating anything crop related.

You can’t go wrong with a trip to the farmers’ market, where you’ll find all manner of fresh produce. But haveyou ever considered what time is best for picking tomatoes? We’ve got answers! Whether your preference lies in antioxidants or color – there’s an ideal season depending on how early (or late) one wants their vegetables .

1 When to pick tomatoes
Knowing when to pick tomatoes is a key part of growing the fruit.  

When to Pick Tomatoes

When harvesting your tomatoes, it’s important to know when they will be ready. If you have limited space like in a small garden or greenhouse and want all of the fruits ripening together at once on one vine then pick them as soon after transplanting until halfway through blooming (when some varieties are most susceptible). A great way make sure not only do I get my needs for fresh produce met but also give plenty more room indoors where we can enjoy those beautiful cherry colors!

Days to Maturity

Tomatoes take between 55 and 85 days to mature, depending on the variety. This time can be broken down into two categories: germination (when they first start growing) versus growth after that point – this includes everything from planting through fruition of their maturity fruit!

2 Pick tomatoes as they ripen
Different varieties mature at different rates.  

The fruit you grow will be more mature by the time it reaches its destination. This means that if your climate has warm days and cool nights, early or mid-season varieties are best for avoiding stress on plants during hot weather conditions when they’re most susceptible to damage from insect infestation
A great way of extending growing season is through Underground Greenhouses which can keep containers heated year round!

Fruit Color

The skin of a tomato changes color as it matures. Mature tomatoes are often deeper in hue than those at younger stages, and this can be an easy way to tell your plants apart! You may also notice other clues like how firm or soft they feel when touched–the more you grow them the easier they’ll get recognition for what’s happening inside their juicy goodness-bearing vines 🙂

3 Tomatoes change as they ripen

The color and texture of the fruit changes as it ripens.


Not just for taste but also how a tomato feels when you pick it determines if its ripe or not. You want to avoid overly soft tomatoes that give easily with your fingers, which means the best testing method is by gently squeezing them and seeing whether they yield into itself slightly – this might take some practice since most people don’t know what exactly allows them identify these


Even those who don’t like tomatoes will find themselves attracted to a ripe tomato. The sweet and savory scent that emits from these fruits are enough for anyone’s nose!

Ease of picking

When you pick ripe fruit, it peels off the branch and falls into your hand. It needs only a gentle pull to separate them from their plant so they’re ready for eating!

How The Weather Affects When to Pick Tomatoes

The weather can have a big effect on when tomatoes are ready to be picked. If the summer has been particularly hot, then tomatoes may ripen earlier than usual. However, if the summer has been cooler than normal, then tomatoes may take longer to ripen. In addition, extended periods of wet weather can cause tomatoes to split or develop fungus.

For these reasons, it is important to pay close attention to the weather forecast when growing tomatoes. By knowing when to expect hot weather or rain, you can better protect your tomatoes and ensure that they are picked at the peak of ripeness.

4 Tomatoes ripen quickly in sun
Fruit developing in warm, sunny conditions ripens quickly.

Fruit that is exposed to extreme temperatures is more likely to develop issues that can spoil the fruit, such as cracks, splits, or blossom end rot. To help prevent this, gardeners can take measures to ensure their plants are watered regularly and the roots are cooled with mulch during hot spells. If heavy rain is forecast, they can also ripen as many fruits as possible and finish ripening them indoors. Towards the end of the growing seasons, when days become cooler and shorter, the change in temperatures can slow down the ripening process. Frost can also damage plants and fruit. If frost or cold weather is forecast, gardeners should harvest unripe fruit. By taking these precautions, gardeners can help to ensure that their fruits are ripe and safe to eat when they are harvested.

5 Pick tomatoes to ripen indoors

Partially ripe fruit can be ripened indoors.

When to Pick Tomatoes

1. The Right Color
One of the most important factors in determining when to pick tomatoes is color. Tomatoes should be a deep red color before they are harvested. If they are still green, they will not have developed their full flavor potential and will not be as sweet as they could be.

2. The Right Size
Tomatoes should also be of a good size before they are picked. They should be about the size of a tennis ball or slightly larger. If they are too small, they will not have developed their full flavor potential.

3. The Right Firmness
Another important factor in determining when to pick tomatoes is firmness. Tomatoes should be firm to the touch, but not hard. If they are too soft, they may be overripe and may not have the best flavor.

4. The Right Time of Day
The time of day can also affect when to pick tomatoes. Tomatoes that are picked in the morning will typically have more sugar than those that are picked later in the day. This is because the sugar content of the tomato decreases as the day goes on and the tomato becomes more exposed to sunlight.

5. The Right Weather Conditions
The weather conditions on the day that you plan to pick your tomatoes can also affect when to pick them. If it is a hot day, the tomatoes may ripen faster than usual and may need to be picked earlier than usual. Conversely, if it is a cool day, the tomatoes may ripen more slowly and may need to be picked later than usual.

6 Pick tomatoes as the color
Harvest when the fruit starts to show some color.

Like many fruits and vegetables, tomatoes must be harvested at the right time in order to enjoy their full flavor. If picked too early, tomatoes will be firm and green; if picked too late, they will be overripe and may even begin to rot. The best time to pick a tomato is during the “breaker” stage, when the fruit is starting to turn red but is still firm to the touch. Harvesting at this point enables you to get a head start on the ripening process by finishing off the fruit indoors. Consequently, you are able to enjoy the fruits a few days earlier than if you harvest completely on the vine. By understanding the different stages of tomato development, you can ensure that your fruits are always perfectly ripe and delicious.

When to Pick Different Varieties of Tomato

1. Early Varieties
Early varieties of tomatoes can be harvested as early as 60 days after planting. These varieties include ‘Early Girl,’ ‘Stupice,’ and ‘Sub Arctic Plenty.’

2. Midseason Varieties
Midseason varieties of tomatoes can be harvested 75-85 days after planting. These varieties include ‘Big Beef,’ ‘Cherokee Purple,’ and ‘Brandywine.’

3. Late Varieties
Late varieties of tomatoes can be harvested 95-100 days after planting. These varieties include ‘Giant Belgium,’ ‘Mortgage Lifter,’ and ‘Paul Robeson.’

4. Heirloom Varieties
Heirloom varieties of tomatoes can be harvested at any time from 60-100 days after planting, depending on the variety. Some popular heirloom varieties include ‘Cherokee Purple,’ ‘Brandywine,’ and ‘Mortgage Lifter.’

5. Determinate Varieties
Determinate varieties of tomatoes will all ripen at approximately the same time, typically within a 2-3 week period. These varieties are typically earlier ripening than indeterminate varieties. Some popular determinate varieties include ‘Early Girl,’ ‘Stupice,’ and ‘Sub Arctic Plenty.’

6. Indeterminate Varieties
Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes will ripen over an extended period of time, typically from mid-summer until frost. These varieties are typically later ripening than determinate varieties. Some popular indeterminate varieties include ‘Big Beef,’ ‘Cherokee Purple,’ and ‘Giant Belgium.’

7. Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes can be harvested 60-70 days after planting. Some popular cherry tomato varieties include ‘Sun Gold,’ ‘Sweet 100,’ and ‘Yellow Pear.’

7 Pick tomatoes on trusses individually
Fruit on trusses ripen at different times.


Romas are one of the few tomato varieties that are best ripened on the vine. Taking around 75 days to mature, harvest the fruit when the skin is smooth and deep red in color.


One of the largest types of tomato, beefsteaks have a long growing season. It can take up to 85 days for the fruit to ripen. As the fruits achieve their mature size, check them every day paying attention to the color. Harvest when the fruits are showing signs of ripening such as turning deep red or pink and the skin is smooth.

8 Pick large tomatoes
Harvest larger types when they show signs of ripening. 

Harvesting Fruit at the Breaker Stage

As we have already noted, for most varieties you can start to pick tomatoes at the breaker stage, this is when they start to show a bit of color. At this stage the fruit is fully formed and can be harvested and taken inside to fully ripen.

9 Pick tomatoes as they mature
You can start to harvest as soon as the fruit shows some color.

The best place to ripen your green tomato fruit is in a bright location away from direct sunlight. Many people mistakenly believe that the best place to ripen their tomates is on a sunny windowsill. But this can do more harm than good. Exposure to too much sun can toughen the skins.

In a tray on the corner of the kitchen counter or close to a window is a far better spot to ripen your toms.

There is also no need to place your fruit in a warm place for them to ripen. A spot that enjoys average room temperature or slightly cooler is fine. Try to place somewhere where the temperature averages between 65 and 75 ℉. A ThermoPro Digital Thermometer can help you to find the perfect spot for your ripening fruit.

Space out the ripening fruit. Do not allow them to touch each other.

Check the fruit a few times a week, remove and use any ripe fruit. Dispose of any fruits that show signs of rot.

You can also place the fruits in a paper bag. Turn the top over to trap the ethylene gas that the fruits emit inside the bag. Ethylene gas encourages fruit to ripen. Adding a banana, which emits lots of ethylene, can speed up the process. However, it can also make the fruit taste like a banana.

Green Shoulders

If you decide not to pick tomatoes until they are fully red, be aware of a condition known as green shoulders.

This can affect a wide variety of different tomato types.

Green shoulders is used to describe fruit that is mature and almost entirely red with the top or shoulders of the fruit remaining green.

Fruit displaying green shoulders can be treated and harvested like fully red fruit.

How to Pick Tomatoes

Regardless of when you decide to pick your tomatoes, the harvesting process is the same.

Use a garden scissors or snips to cut the fruit from the vine. Pulling the fruit from the plant can harm or damage both the fruit and the plant. Pulling from the vine can also cause unripe fruit to fall from the plant.

If you are harvesting a large amount use a wire harvest basket or hod to store the fruit in as you pick it. Using a Gardeners Supply Company Garden Hod to hold your fruit as you pick helps to prevent accidental damage and bruising.

10 Use basket to hold tomatoes
Place fruit in a basket as you harvest.

How to Store Vine Ripened Fruit

If you decide to ripen your fruit on the vine before picking, knowing how to properly store the fruit is vital. Being able to store the fruit correctly means that it keeps for longer.

Store vine ripened fruit upside down so that it rests on its shoulders. The blossom end, which is softer, should face upwards. Storing fruit blossom-end down can bruise the fruit and speed up deterioration.

Keep your fruit at room temperature. Do not place it in the refrigerator. Storing a ripe tomato harvests at temperatures under 50 ℉ changes both the color and texture of the fruit. It also causes a deterioration of flavor.

Do not store your harvested fruit in direct light. Exposure to too much heat or light can damage the fruit and ruin the flavor.

Knowing when to pick tomatoes is a key part of successfully growing the fruit. Once you are able to identify the signs of ripening fruit you can decide when to harvest, enabling you to get the most out of your tomato plants.

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