Are you farming tomatoes in your backyard or your garden? And are you fed up with the tomatoes that do not ripe when you need them to? Are you wondering how long does it take for tomatoes to ripen on the vine? You don’t have to worry anymore. You have come to the right place. Keep on reading to find out the exact reason why this happens and also know how to speed up tomato ripening on the vine.
A Little Trivia
Tomatoes are the red round ripe bliss that brings a sweet-bitter umami taste to your mouth in the summer-times. Despite being a fruit it is infamously known as a vegetable to most of us.
This fruit from the nightshade family of trees is part of most of the famous cuisines around the world. You can just cut a perfectly ripe tomato, sprinkle some kosher salt and black pepper and eat them, or you have a thousand other ways to eat them.
Also Read: How Can You Grow Tomatoes from Fresh Tomatoes?
You can also have processed tomatoes all year like tomato ketchup, sauce, canned tomato, tomato puree, etc.
Tomatoes are rich in nutritional value too. Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene reduces the risk of cancer and heart diseases. Tomatoes are also a great source of folate (vitamin B9), vitamin K1, potassium, and Vitamin C.
Commercially available tomatoes that we find in supermarkets are harvested while still green and immature. But when we buy them they are perfectly red.
That is because they are sprayed with chemicals before selling them. Artificial chemicals make them ripen and red fast. But this process takes away the natural flavor of the tomatoes.
So your homegrown tomatoes will always taste better than those sold in supermarkets. Now the problem you must be thinking about is “how can I make my tomatoes ripen?” Well, let’s take a look at it.
Why Are Your Tomatoes Slow To Ripen?
A regular size tomato will grow to its full size in three to four weeks from blossom. It will be mature but green and tight. From there it will take twenty to thirty more days to change its color to yellow, pink, orange, or red depending on the breed of the tree.
You can do a little before they reach the full-grown size. But after that, there are some common factors behind the slow ripening time. Here are some mentioned –
Temperature – Temperature is the most important factor in tomato ripening. It takes the optimal temperature to ripen fast. If it’s too hot or too cold, tomatoes will slow down the ripening process.
Sunlight – It is a common misconception among people in backyard farming that tomatoes need sunlight to ripen. “The more the merrier.” is not the truth in the case of tomato farming. Too much sunlight heats the tomato unevenly and results in uneven ripening.
Soil – Another solution people indulge in is over-fertilizing the plant. After the tomatoes have reached their full-grown size you do not need to over-fertilize them to get bulkier and ripe faster. This will have an adverse effect. Your tomatoes may just rot.
Patience – Many people just forget that this whole process of ripening takes time. Tomatoes do not ripe overnight off the vines. They need time and care. If you are too impatient to wait for 20 to 30 days to see those green fruits turn into red squishy balls, this is not for you. Now let’s find out.
Check this out: Why Cucumber Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?
The Science: How Green Tomatoes Turn Red on the Plant
It takes 6 to 8 weeks for for tomatoes to ripen on the vine.
As we know the scientific name of tomato is Solanum Lycopersicum. The plant produces an antioxidant named Lycopene. This Lycopene and another pigment called Carotene are responsible for the ripening part of tomatoes’ life.
At the correct temperature of seventy to seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit or twenty-one to twenty-four degrees Celsius tomato vines produce a natural gas named ethylene. It helps the tomatoes to produce Lycopene and Carotene. Lycopene breaks down and replaces the chlorophylls in tomatoes.
According to the scientists from The Colorado State University, tomatoes stop producing Carotene and Lycopene above eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius).
How to Speed Up Tomatoes Ripening?
#1 Choose a Tomato Variety that Matures Faster
Fast-maturing tomato varieties will mellow faster and be ready to get picked sooner than other tomatoes, especially if you live in a cold environment with a brief growing season.
Here are some fast-maturing tomato varieties you can find in the market:
- Early Girl Hybrid – this variety starts to produce quite early in the season, bearing fruit that weighs about 5 ounces. They mature in only 59 days. You can cut these tomatoes in less than 9 weeks after planting them in your gardens.
- Summer Girl Hybrid – This variety of tomato is a quick producer, bearing round fruits that weigh up to 5 to 6 ounces. At only 49 to 53 days to development, you can harvest them in about 7 weeks.
- Bloody Butcher – This variety is an heirloom tomato breed. It produces tomatoes with a dark red color that weigh up to 3 to 4 ounces individually. They also mature in 55 days and taste way better than common tomatoes.
- Mighty Sweet Hybrid –This is a special breed of berry-like tomatoes. It weighs up to 2 ounces each. These tomatoes mature in only 55 days, so you will have a harvest in less than 8 weeks after you plant them.
Well choosing the right variety is not the end of it. You still have a lot to take care of.
#2 Harvest daily
Pluck fruits as soon as it begins to show reddish color. This allows other fruits on the vine to increase in size by getting all the necessary nutrients. It helps them to come to harvest more quickly. Tomato fruit plucked at the earliest hint of color can be ripened at room temperature near the plant.
Fruits matured off the vine will be just as delicious as those left to ripen on the vine. Cut or gently twist off fruits while holding the vine steadily at the same time. Do not leave over mature fruits on the vine; they reduce productivity and may develop diseases.
#3 Pluck clusters of flowers
Pluck fresh flower clusters from vines of tomato that already bear a set of fruit. Removing flower-clusters will direct the vine’s power into ripening the berry already ripening on the plant. No later than four weeks before the first expected frost, remove flowers. It ensures existing fruit on the plant to be harvested without frost or weather damage.
#4 Remove dwarf or excess fruits
Pick smaller or abundant fruit off of the tomato vine. Plucking immature tomatoes will not allow the vine to divert from delivering nutrients into ripening larger and already semi-mature fruits. Tomatoes that are “fully-grown green” size and also have the first touch of color can be ripened at room temperature off the plant.
#5 Pluck some leaves too
Pinch away some suckers and leaves at the low end of the plant. In between the main stem and lateral branches, tomato plants continuously sprout new shoots–known as ‘suckers’. Pinch and prune away this new shoots so that the vine can channel its nutrients into making and nurturing new fruit rather than sprouting new leaves.
Leaves just above the fruit or the fruit clusters should be left untouched to protect the tomatoes from getting a sunburn. The lower leaves on the plant don’t contribute to anything but use up energy. They also can harbor diseases. It’s better to pluck them off.
#6 Reduce watering and fertilizing during the late season
Cut on water and food to force “mature green” tomatoes to ripen. Fertilizer–especially too much nitrogen–contributes to new leaf growth at the expense of new fruit growth and older fruit’s maturation.
Use food low in nitrogen. Cutting on the water as tomatoes grow to mature size will speed up the ripening and enrich the flavor. Also, it directs the vine’s nutrition away from the new fruits to ripening full-grown fruit already on the plant.
#7 Shifting root position during season end
During season end a gentle twist in the root by shifting will give the roots new soil to feed on. It will also provide them with airy soil to breathe. This will enrich the flavor of the fruits as well.
#8 Extreme temperatures should be avoided
As mentioned before, do not let your plant get into hotter or colder temperatures. Prevent it from getting below sixteen degrees Celsius and above thirty-two degrees Celsius. If it happens your plant will stop producing ethylene. Without ethylene, tomatoes won’t ripen on the vines.
#9 Mulch and Sheeting
Red or silver-colored plastic should be used for sheeting. Aluminum foils can be used to speed up growth in the places where temperatures are very low. Reflected light from red or silver-colored plastics or foils stimulates the movements of carbohydrates resulting in the ripening of the tomatoes early by a week or more.
Here are some general tips for those people who live in extreme weathers
1. Since you will get less time to grow tomatoes in your climate, be sure to use the fast-growing varieties of tomatoes mentioned above.
2. Start earlier. Prepare the seeds inside your house using high-temperature bulbs. And be sure to plant the saplings 5 to 6 weeks before the first frost. The sooner you plant your seedlings the more fruits you will be able to harvest.
3. If the temperature drops extremely during nighttime. You can put single plastic domes on each of your vines. You can even build a little greenhouse if you fancy.
4. Support your tomato vines with cages and other structures close to the ground. You can even make DIY cages with twigs and branches of trees.
5. Make sure blossom drop never happens. If the weather is wet, help your vines to pollinate with a hand or a toothbrush. Shake your plant with your hand or brush them gently on the flowers.
How to Make Green Tomatoes Turn Red Instantly?
It is always more intelligent to pluck all the full-grown green tomatoes before frost. In this way, they won’t get ruined.
What if you have a sudden need for a lot of ripe tomatoes, but your vine has only two or three? In that case, you would have to force ripen your tomatoes.
Wondering how to force tomatoes to ripen? Down below we have listed some natural methods that serve the purpose without compromising the quality or adding side effects.
#1 Using a box
Place your fully grown green tomatoes in a cardboard box, leaving space in between them. That way they cannot spread diseases to each other. Now place some banana peels or apple peels in between the fruits. This releases the gas ethylene that helps the fruits to ripen. Once one of the tomatoes turns red, separate it from others so that it doesn’t overripe or go rotten.
#2 Using a paper bag
you can place all your green tomatoes in a paper bag and seal the opening. The natural ethylene created by the tomatoes will concentrate inside the bag and make the tomatoes turn red. You may have to shuffle up the tomatoes after a day so that the ripening happens evenly. Check the bag daily to see if any of the tomatoes have mould or rot. Remove any ripe tomatoes found. Don’t keep the bag in sunlight and just use a regular warm place inside your house.
#3 The Upside Down Method
Some gardeners are known to pull up their entire plants with roots and fruits and hang them upside down in an indoor location. The idea behind this is during the time that the plants are alive, it will keep releasing ethylene that will concentrate around each other. Also, the nutrients from the plants will concentrate inside the fruit. Keep in mind, you have to shake off as much soil as you can and check the progress daily.
#4 By the windowsill
Though it is not recommended to put your tomatoes under direct sunlight, you can put your tomatoes by the windowsill to get the warmth from the sunlight. The rise in temperature during cold weather will make the tomatoes riper.
You now have answers to all your questions and confusion regarding the ripening of tomatoes. We hope that you are no longer tormented by questions like how can I make my tomatoes ripen, and can now enjoy the wonderful taste of ripe tomatoes from your own garden.