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What do I do if there are a lot of tomatoes? Do I start picking them when they aren't quite ripe?

by Emily
(Farmington, NM)

I live in a hot area (high desert) and I don't know if I should pick tomatoes when they are almost red or do I leave them to ripen completely.

I have a lot of tomatoes on one bush and I'm afraid leaving all the tomatoes on the vine until they are red, instead of a scarlet red, will compromise the health of the plant and the other tomatoes.

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Aug 19, 2020

by: Kathryn


What a great question! Here are basics for picking tomatoes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created standards that help growers and vendors to classify a tomato’s ripeness based on external appearance. (The USDA also publishes standards for internal appearance, size, defects, and even packaging and display.)

USDA Tomato Ripening stages to help you know when to pick tomatoes with Tomato Dirt. These "Tomato Color Standards" are labeled as "ripeness stages." Each stage represents a progressively increasing amount of color on the tomato.

As to your specific question: yes, you can extend your tomato harvest when you pick fruit that's nearly ripened. But you can also extend your plant's life and productivity when you reduce watering and shift roots. More tips for extending your tomato harvest.

Good luck and happy gardening!
Your friends at Tomato Dirt

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