Why won't my tomatoes ripen on the stem end?

by R. J. Bud
(Wilkes-Barre, PA)

Q. My tomatoes won't ripen on the stem end. Why?

A. There's at least two reasons your tomatoes may suffer from yellow shoulders or green shoulders.

  1. Type of tomato. Some tomato varieties simply don't ripen on the shoulder. Cherokee Purple Tomato, for instance, have green shoulders while the rest of the fruit ripens. Check your variety!
  2. Too much heat or sunlight. Lycopene, a plant pigment, helps give tomatoes their red color. But lycopene production is inhibited by heat. The pigment produces best when temperatures are 65-75 degrees F. So if your tomatoes aren't ripening and it's been unseasonable hot/sunny, the light and heat could be the culprit.

Take these precautions to prevent green shoulders or yellow shoulders:

  • Choose evenly-ripening varieties.
  • Limit pruning tomatoes to allow foliage to grow thicker, providing shade for fruit.
  • Set plants closer together to increase leaf cover.
  • Provide shade for plants.

Good luck and happy gardening!
Your friends at Tomato Dirt

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