Cherry tomatoes going crazy

jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)July 13, 2014

This was Friday's harvest. We also harvested 60 baskets on Wednesday. The even better news is we only have 12 baskets left after the markets on Saturday. I could have sold those too if I had them at my market, but they were at the other market. After looking at them today, I bet I could pick that many again today.

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Two markets on the same day? I wish I could share your optimism but I had no markets this past week due to our market town holding an Arts Festival. Yet I have close to 10 bu. of cherry/grape tomatoes and equal quanity of larger fruited ones picked within the last week. A few customers bought tomatoes but I really rely on my markets... this week I'll have 3 to attend. I never thought I'd hope for tomato production to slow down a little but I wish I had another outlet.

One question though as to the plastic containers you use... where do you order them? I prefer pulp boxes for tomatoes but I have had great success with the plastic ones with small peppers. Those past plastic boxes were given to me by a local supermarket employee and the source was not known.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 4:15PM
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how many plants do you guys have? 60 baskets? 10 bu?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 8:27PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

We have about 100 cherry, pear and grape tomatoes.

Bmoser: We do sell at two markets on Saturdays. My wife sells in our hometown and I sell in a bigger town about 45 miles away, we also sell in this town on Wednesdays. We usually divide our harvest 2/3 for me and 1/3 for her. We started this at the end of June last season. Sales in our hometown were dropping, for an unknown reason, and we had way more produce than either one of us could sell at one market. Also, my wife feels it is important that we help keep our hometown market viable.

This year we also added another market on Thursday nights. It is a new market and we have been fairly successful.

We ordered our pint berry baskets from Southern Container Corp.

You are wishing tomatoes would slow down, I wish they would start. Our big tomatoes are so very slow this year.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 1:07AM
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Your tomatoes look great. I only had a few pints this last week, and about 3 pounds of larger tomatoes.

What do you charge for a pint of cherry tomatoes?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 7:51AM
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Randy, I normally plant 4 rows in one high tunnel of cherry/gr. with 45 plants per row but this year with the Artisan varieties I decided on adding 2/3 row of the mixture of 6 Artisan types, Juliet, Sweet Treats, Red & Yellow pear... varieties that are a little larger. All are producing very well and many stringlines need to be lowered as I know I have many plants 13 ft. high, growing past hanger hooks.

I've been using 1/2 pt pulp boxes for cherry varieties. I have been charging $3.25 per but I typically lower prices about now to reflect availability since many customers who purchased plants are now harvesting a few of their own. I will drop to $2.75 per box tomorrow and likely settle on $2.50 per box for the season in two weeks. We have not ever sold bu quantities of cherry types and never plan to do so. We had one lady a week ago hand me 2 twenty$ bills and ask for whatever amt. of cherry tomatoes it would buy. I only charged $3 for her boxes.

Thanks for the ref. JR as I want to purchase plastic pt containers soon. We dont have ripe Lunchbox peppers yet but I want to soon have a few.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 8:32AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

We charge $3 a basket and we sold out (everything in that picture by 11:00, market runs until 1pm) Sometimes we run specials, 3 for $8 or 2 for $5 if they are aren't selling as well.

Bmoser: I would love to see some pics of your lunchbox peppers. I have seen them before, and wanted to grow them, but my wife thought they were just a novelty.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:13AM
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I'll need to take a few pictures. So far only a few have color but I have more planted than last year and last year they were a great seller but I had a surplus. They pick easy, much easier than the Sweet Baby Girl minibells. The greatest selling point is that the seed is concentrated by the top and so they can be eaten of the stem like a carrot. One issue is that the Yellow Lunchbox and Orange Lunchbox peppers are larger than the Red Lunchbox peppers but nobody seems to mind that.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:20PM
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Another thank you, Jrslick. I received my plastic pt. containers and am using them for most pepper sales. Still only a few with color.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 10:46PM
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Jay, how do you store the tomatoes you take home from market? If you leave them in the green pint boxes, do they get that "waffle butt" look of indentations?

I need to get better at storing my tomatoes between markets. I was thinking of building some shelves inside an air-conditioned bedroom. It's hard to find a cushioned container. Heirlooms especially don't like to sit on a hard counter. They get little flat spots from the pressure. I was thinking of buying some foam puzzle mats, and cutting them to fit into the bottom of my 1020 web flats.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Wine coolers work well for storing small quantities of ripe tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. I use my basement's pump room, although it's at 60 degrees which is on the warm side of ideal for storage.

This post was edited by Slimy_Okra on Thu, Jul 31, 14 at 16:42

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:41PM
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Cole - I haven't found a good way to store cherry tomatoes between markets, but I don't pick too far ahead of time. Larger tomatoes I store stem down, try not to pick dead ripe (esp. Black Krim), and if I have to store them as they're ripening I put newspaper in between and under, try to turn them (like I do green ones picked in advance of frost warning).

Last year I didn't have too many to store (except green ones end of season trying to ripen in my basement), the year before I had a lot but was wholesaling to 2 different stores as well as selling at market so I didn't have to store ripe ones too long. Some I was keeping on tables in my farmstand (aka garage) did rot and I had to compost them but I went through them every day, washed out the plastic bins as needed. When it got really hot I put them in the basement and only hauled them up when the farmstand was open.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:49PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I pick early and let the customer ripen them up. Cherry tomatoes get picked when they are about 1/4 colored, then I can usually get 1 week out of them (haven't had too much carry over this year). I have found that the cherry do get that waffle look, only when they are almost overripe. I will usually pitch them if they look that way. Our big tomatoes don't go in the pint baskets. We actually pick them into the 28 quart totes/tubs that the cherry tomatoes in the picture are sitting in. Usually we put a couple layers in, usually gives be 20-25 lbs per tub. If you pile them high, you can get 45 pounds, but the lids don't even get close to fitting. We also put newspaper in the bottom of the tubs, that absorbes any tomato juices if one goes bad.

We store all our tomatoes in our basement. We have a storage room and an AC vent blows into that space. It keeps them plenty cool, but not too cold.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:53AM
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