My tomatoes will not turn red

kroundedJuly 14, 2011

I've grown tomatoes in this same spot for 3 years. Usually tomatoes started turning by the middle of July. They get lots of sun. I water once a day. If I don't, I get wilting. The plants are huge. I planted Romas (like last year) Whoppers, Choco Cherries and Season Start.

Last year I had blossom rot so I've been using fertilizer this year - 7-4-5. The green fruit is beautiful, no cracks, but no sign of ripening.

We've had a pretty hot summer with very little actual rain in Chicago. They even survived a hail storm and a "hurricane" with little damage.

What the heck is going on? Peppers are doing pretty well. Cucumbers are so-so. Lettuce as good as can be expected with the heat. (These other veggies are in different areas of the yard) Thanks in advance!

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cut the mater in half with a sharp knife. If the gel keeps the blade from splitting the seed inside your green fruit, then it will eventually ripen. That is all I have.

I would suggest doing it twice, once from the top, then second on its side, or as many times as you have too. Maybe, slow, direct closely-watched slices to determine.

As many as it takes I guess. From this, you can safely assume that all similiar size green fruit on your plant will ripen or not.

Take care,

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 10:14PM
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The nitrogen level of your fertilizer may be a little high.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 10:35PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Patience grasshopper. The cool wet spring in most of the country caused some of the delay for many. Variety also contributes to delay. Or I should say what "appears" to us to be delayed ripening since it is only the middle of July.

Bottom line, if there are green fruit on the plant then you know they will ripen. They just don't do it when we want them to. :)


    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 10:36PM
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I am in Indy just below you and I am wondering the same thing, but I did have to wait a couple weeks later than usual due to rain, cool spring. I have started to notice some orange blushing, so I'm hopeful. You can do a little root pruning to push them along, but I'm assume that might sacrifice future tomatoes from that plant

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 10:49AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

We post this link here often every time this question comes up but you really need to bookmark it. Gives great info on the steps/stages/time involved in tomato production right up to ripening.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Timeline

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 1:56PM
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Sometimes tomato enzymes, combined with weather conditions do weird things. I never knew that severe heat could delay ripening until we had an extended period of temperatures above 115. All of my fruit just stopped ripening one day and the day it cooled off, it started ripening again. It was very strange. Even affected the cherries. So, maybe it's something as simple as temperature, nitrogen or, who knows? It will probably ripen when it feels ready to ripen.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 2:05PM
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I'm confused by your getting ripe fruit consistently by mid July in Chicago. When are you setting them out? This year here, I couldn't get them planted until the first week of June because of the excessive rain. So that makes only about 40 days since planting out here. Even still if I get them in by mid May that only makes about 55 days and that is too short for many varieties to be ripe by.
I've had ripe Sunsugars for a few weeks now, and I've got some other early cherries coming, but the others have only green fruit which I expect after such a slow start to the season.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 5:15PM
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Thanks everyone. I don't feel unusual now. I guess since I got them earlier last year, I figured I would this year too. I put them out around May 21 I think. They were started inside under lights.

I've never heard of the cutting experiment. I'll try it, but they are so plump and firm, I think it will come out positive.

Digdirt gave me the grasshopper advice again I think (like he/she did for the not enough flowers worry earlier :-). And thanks to other posts for the links. They are very good.

I guess I'll delay the fertilizer treatment for next month a little. I used less than the prescribed amount, but maybe that has something to do with it. I forgot to mention they are in pots, so I don't know about root trimming. I suppose they don't respond to pleading and yelling :-)

Thanks Much!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 9:02PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I suppose they don't respond to pleading and yelling :-)

Nope. Try classic rock! :)


    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 10:09PM
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I'm in the Chicago suburbs and I just started getting a few ripe cherries this week, and 1 Early Girl just started to blush yesterday. This is only my 2nd year growing tomatoes, it does seem like it's taking longer this year but it might be my imagination.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 10:40PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Mine stopped turning red. We have been picking tomatoes for over a month, selling since June 15, and with all the heat we have been getting, they just stopped. Last week, 400 pounds, this week 80. The plants are loaded and they have good moisture. Just too hot!


    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Jay, what causes that? I noticed that, when we got really hot, too.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 9:36PM
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It has been too hot. Perhaps that is what is wrong.

I have Choco Cherry in with others. One tomato is blushed and feels soft. I'm not sure when to pick it. Wait till it is all purple or now with a little green on it.

One of the pots got that blossom rot. Only one pot. Others with same variety (roma) look ok. I've got big fruit on the Season Start and Whoppers. Still green. It better taste really good for all this wait.

They do get some rock music on occasion. Maybe I should leave the radio on for them :-)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 10:07PM
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here's something weird--I had Cherokee Purple fully ripe 7/7. Have been picking lots of ripe Mortgage Lifter, Marglobe, Golden Jubilee, Mr. Stripey, old German...

Still waiting for Celebrity and Early Girl. Early Girl!! seriously! Big greenies on that.

In short, my heirlooms have done much better (Southeastern Indiana) than the hybrids (with the exception of Romas).

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 8:56PM
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I live 20 minutes north of Chicago city limits and my tomatoes are the same as yours-green. I have ONE black cherry tomato about a day from being fully ripe and that's it. Not even a blush! I put them in May 13th but like you said, we've had turbulent weather this year which I believe have set them back a few weeks than normal. I'm getting impatient! Summer isn't really summer 'til I get that first bite of a homegrown heirloom tomato!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 9:51PM
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Nice to hear from some local folks.

That is strange. SE Indiana has some red tomatoes. Chicago is lagging big time. You would not think there would be such a difference. It's not that far apart. Maybe this year it is though.I'm glad to know I'm not alone though.

Some of my larger tomatoes fell over again in the last storm and a couple fell off. I've got them in the window. Maybe they will ripen there. But I guess it will be back to farmer's market for salad for a while. I have quite a few new baby cucumbers coming on now though.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 9:23PM
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riceloft(5b / NE Ohio)

Just today I had my first "normal" sized tomato start turning red. YAY!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 9:47PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Agree with late red tomatoes situation. Must be all the sunny hot weather here in upstate NY. I usually have ripe tomatoes big time by now.......only picked 2 so far!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 11:44PM
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In southern NH, I just had a couple Early Girls start blushing yesterday.

That timeline someone posted said it is ~18 days from full sized to blushing. Definitely feels longer than that, but I don't have a reference.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 9:23AM
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Yaaaaa.....Red tomatoes this week and purple Choco Cherries. They are turning. I got some Season Start (like Early Girl...seriously? :-) They taste very good. No Whoppers ready yet. Some Romas turned first.

The heat broke and they started to turn. It's interesting to hear some people's tomatoes stopped turning. Maybe things will pick up now if the heat does not come back.

And joy of joys....The Romanensco cauliflower is starting to bud. I hope they get huge. I can hardly wait to try them.

The cucumbers are doing ok and the bell,chili & jalapeno have lots of fruit. Hurray!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 8:15PM
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"I've been using fertilizer this year - 7-4-5". I agree with Lgteacher about the nitrogen. Yes plants need nitrogen, every knows that. But when life is good, all you get green (no fruit). I tend toward the lowest nitrogen fertilizer I can find in the vegetable garden, and make up for it by composting to improve the soil.

Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency. This year I started putting egg shells/tums in the ground when I plant. Later in the season, I believe I also used a tums dissolved in water spray on the leaves. No blossom end rot this year. There are other "tomato tricks" but it wouldn't be fair to tell you them all at once!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 9:14PM
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Tomato plants laugh at us with mystery.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 11:01PM
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My "Red cherry large" are slow to ripen too. But I DO have TONS of them on 2 plants. 7 feet tall! Got to save some of those seeds!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 1:06PM
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Thanks for the advice Clay. I've put egg shells in before. I think it did some good. My husband keeps forgetting to save them for me. I don't know how and don't really have space to compost. Spring, I'm sure the tomatoes are laughing, but the varmints that have been stealing them are laughing even harder. Tommy, I'm glad to hear you have such healthy plants. I'm never quite sure how to properly save the seeds or if I have heirlooms that will allow that. (Sshh - don't tell Monsanto :-)

The tomatoes are turning regularly now. Salads with my own tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, long white radishes and hot chilies are delicious. I hope the season lasts long enough to get plenty.

I'm thinking about what to do this fall. I need to fertilize for breakdown over winter. I'm just not sure what kind to use. My flower bed usually gets used for lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, one tomato plant and this year, romanesco. The bulk of tomatoes and peppers go into pots.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 9:31PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Instructions for saving seed (various methods):

If you're not sure which varieties are open pollinated (grow true from seed) or hybrid (don't grow exactly true from seed), you can check these databases:
Tatiana's TOMATObase has thousands of varieties, purely OP:
Cornell's site is smaller, mostly common varieties (what's sold at big box stores and many nurseries, commonly available seeds, etc.) and many hybrids:

The egg shells won't really help your blossom end rot, but composting is always good. BER is a condition that affects young plants in the spring. In most cases, by the time it's noticed and "treated," the plants have already grown out of the tendency. So it seems like the eggshells, or special spray, or whatever, took care of the problem -- but in reality it was just coincidence.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 11:08PM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

If you're left with green tomatoes on the vine at the end of the season, pick the green ones and wrap in newspaper, place them in the dark. Check every couple days, many will turn red. As long as they don't rot, you can freeze them or use in sauce. Just a tip.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 10:18AM
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Ok here we are a year later and we have just expereienced extreme and record breaking drought. I still have some green tomoates and cherry tomatoes. So I have taken some of the advice here and pruned up the vines a good bit hoping the energy will go to the tomatoes and not excessive tomatoes. My tomatoes were 6' tall now we shall see what happens. Considering it is in sept Im panicing a little.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 4:27PM
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Am also in Chicago....I have a ton of green tomatoes. Last weekend, I pruned the heck out of my tomato plants and literally the next day, 1/3 of the tomatoes were starting to turn. I have not really gotten a good crop this year, so I am hoping I can eek out a few more. Gonna prune more often next year!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 9:22AM
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I'm so excited! My tomatoes seem almost ready to eat! they have this beautiful, orange color, but how long will it be before they turn red? Some have been orange for about a week, while some (mostly at the top), are green. Can any one answer this question?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 12:51PM
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What variety are they? I think after a week they have should have turned red or at least show evidence of some. That's the perfect color for picking an orange when ripe tomato like "Sungold". You could have gotten a mislabeled plant. I'd be tempted to try the top one. It would be awful if you missed the opportunity eat the first "Sungold".

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 1:58PM
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kathyb912_in (5a/5b, Central IN)(5a/5b)

I second the "What variety are they?" I got my first three ripe Sungold cherry tomatoes this week and they looked similar to yours. If yours is an orange-colored cherry, they might be ripe already. Pop one of those into your mouth and try it. :)


    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 3:20PM
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Thanks guys! This is my first experience in gardening so I need all the help I can get. I'll take your advice and let you know how it turns out!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:19AM
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I know this is an OLD thread, but:
I'm having the same problem, late ripening. I got my FIRST tomatoes in LATE August, and I STILL have more than 1/2 the fruit on the vine, with about 4 just about ripe right now, NOVEMBER 10th, with most of the ripe fruit I got in October. Any clues?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 6:11PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

DTM (Days to Maturity) is a pretty good yard stick. Though not an exact number. Then comes the plant out date, seedling size.
So if you plant a tomato with a DTM of 90 and get a lot of bad weather , you might end up having a ripe tomato after 100 or more days. So if you plant in May 25, you will have to wait til the end of August and maybe in September. No surprise there.

About BER and egg shell:
It amazes me when I read that some people add egg shell to remedy BER. Egg shell will take months if not years to break down and release calcium. To me thinking that adding egg shells can cure BER is mythical. Calcium deficiency and BER is just a theory not substantiated.

OK. FORGET THE LAST SEASON. What are you plans for 2014? Think about DTM, extending you season , do early varieties. ( I am just reminding myself LOL).
I have already decided to scratch out two: Brandywine and Black Krim. Add Mortgage Lifter and Cherokee Purple plus few determinats and early varieties.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 9:50PM
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