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Tomatoes Not Turning Red

By January 26, 2014 December 8th, 2015 Harvesting, Pests & Troubleshooting, Uncategorized

Are your tomatoes not turning red? If so, you are not alone. Many years gardeners along the Front Range experience this problem.

5 Ideas to Quicken the Tomato Ripening Process

  1. Sometime tomatoes won’t ripen because it’s too darn hot. If your garden is in a very hot location (near a large brick wall or in a spot with 9+ hours of direct sunlight), just be patient and they’ll ripen as the weather cools through August and into September. The red tomato pigment isn’t produced when temperatures are over 85 degrees.
  2. Slightly decrease the watering. When tomatoes feel a decrease in water – or any stress whatsoever – they will begin to ripen more quickly. Don’t decrease water too much, as it will cause blossom end rot if the soil goes from super dry to super wet over and over.
  3. Pull off all new growth that will take energy away from ripening tomatoes. That means plucking off new flowers, small green fruit, suckers, and even the top “apical meristem” where new growth comes from. You are sacrificing new tomatoes when you pick off new flowers or small fruit. However, these flowers and fruit are taking energy from the plant and they won’t have time to ripen anyway.
  4. If you are approaching the first frost of the fall season, pick the green tomatoes and bring them inside to ripen. Keep them in a cardboard box at room temperature. Some people place a banana in the box to ripen as well. The ripening banana and tomatoes releases a gas called ethylene that increases the rate of ripening.
  5. Cut the root system of the plant. A stressed plant will put more energy toward reproduction. Push a shovel into the soil halfway around the plant, about 8-12 inches from the base of the plant.

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  • Erin Conant says:

    Have you ever heard of cold ground temps keeping tomatoes from turning red? We’re from San Antonio and heat never stopped our tomatoes from ripening. But I just wonder if the cold water I’ve been putting on them could be having an impact. My next door neighbor and I have the same variety – except she’s had tons of them turn red already. The only difference I can see is that hers are in a pot (warmer soil) and mine are in the ground (in all day full sun). The plants look exceptionally healthy – tons of healthy, very green tomatoes. I’m totally stumped.

    • bryantm251 says:

      Could soil temps could definitely delay ripening. However, cold water seems less likely since it’s such a temporary input. But who knows!

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