What’s with all these green tomatoes?

tomato_green tomatoes

I’ve lived here for 21 years and have never seen the tomatoes ripen this late. In fact the majority of them in my garden are still green. I have a few sungolds and black cherry tomatoes and one Pink Berkley Tie Dye and a couple of red ones ripen but that’s it-the rest are still green on the vine.

tomato_healthy plants

The plants are big and healthy. So what’s happening here?

Problem #1
The first problem was we had a hot June (except for one weekend) and an unbelievably hot July here with day after day of 92+°F. Why does that matter? Tomatoes won’t pollinate themselves over 92°f-they drop their blossoms, which is commonly known as blossom drop. They will keep producing blossoms but won’t set them producing tomatoes until it’s cooler. So we lost a whole month, putting us behind schedule.

Problem # 2
So once the monsoons thankfully came in, it got cooler and now we have green tomatoes in various stages of ripening. But suddenly, it got even cooler. So much so that it is starting to feel like autumn in August with temperatures dropping at night into the 50’s and daytime temps are much lower in the 70s. So although the tomatoes can’t have extreme heat to set fruit, they need heat to ripen. With cooler temps, it takes longer for tomatoes to turn red, or yellow, or black or whatever color they should be when ripe.

Normally I show up at the Farmers Market middle of August with 6-8 boxes of tomatoes that then increases to 15-20 boxes every week.

tomatoes_first harvest

Here is what I have now. Only 2 little bowls of tomatoes, getting a bowl a day-hardly enough to go to market with.

Now it is a race to get some tomatoes to ripen before our first frost which usually comes in October but one year it came in early September. Let’s hope not this year!

Last year I decided to slow down and take a little time off (farmer’s burnout) and that I might not go to the market as much nor grow as many tomatoes either. I have 40 tomatoes this year (lost three to curly top virus) so now I have 37 compared to 125 tomato plants last year. I guess I made a good choice as I’m not sure how long into Sept it will be before I have enough to go to market if at all before a frost.

7 comments on “What’s with all these green tomatoes?

  1. Sherry says:

    I have seen the same around us. There are very few at our farmers market.


  2. Pamela Grob says:

    I agree….my tomatoes are not ripening either. Not a good summer for growing tomatoes.


  3. Karen says:

    I am so happy to hear this account. I thought I’d done something wrong in soil prep or bought the wrong heirloom varieties. Last year my tomatoes were abundant by this time. These greenies better ripen soon. Someone told me that at the end of the tomato growing season, you pull the plant until the roots snap that the surviving tomatoes will ripen quickly on the vine. What do you think? I’d just like to harvest a few. But, I’ll wait til late September.


    • I have heard if you hang them upside down in a garage after you pull them, they will ripen sooner but I don’t know if either is true. I just pick them green, put them 2 layers in paper bags, put a piece of apple to help with ripening (they release ripening gas), close the bags up so it is darker inside and check them every few days. Then I sort them into other paper bags according to color as they ripen so as not to squish any that are almost ripe.


  4. i also have green toms lovely update thank you sharing have a blessed day


  5. Virginis says:

    Wow. I feel so lucky to live up at 7600′. It was hot but not hot enough for blossom drop. So I have lots of Toms trying to ripen in the cold weather. Not to mention the plums, nectarines and apples. My oh my it will be a shame if our bumper crop fails to ripen. The plums are just beginning to get “less than rock hard’.


  6. aim says:

    thank you! I thought it was odd I did not have any–or very little red tomatoes. I just started geowing tomatoes again after many years.


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